Friday, 3 August 2012

"Gone for a walk by the river"

Mrs Kelly gave her evidence on the morning of 1st September.  This is the exchange with Mr Dingemans regarding her activity following the time that her husband set off for his walk on the afternoon of the 17th:

Q. So between 3 and 3.20 he had gone for a walk?
A. That is right, yes.
Q. And what were you doing for the rest of the day?
A. I was still feeling extremely ill so I went to sit in the sitting room. I could not settle, I put the TV on, which is unheard of for me at that time of the day. There were a few callers at the front door. I answered those and had a short chat with each of them. Then I began to get rather worried because normally if David
was going for a longer walk, he would say. It was a kind of family tradition, if you were going for a longer walk you would say where you were going and what time you would be back.
Q. He had not said?
A. He had not said that. He just said: I am going for my walk.
Q. How long would a normal walk take?
A. About 15 minutes, depending if he met somebody, perhaps 20 minutes, 25 minutes.
Q. What time did you start to become concerned?
A. Probably late afternoon. Rachel rang, my daughter rang to say: do not worry, he has probably gone out to have a good think. Do not worry about it, he will be fine.  She had planned to come over that evening. She made a decision definitely to come over. She arrived -- I am not quite sure what time she arrived, half five, six o'clock, I think. She went out. She said: I will go and walk up and meet Dad. She walked up one of the normal footpaths he would have taken -- in fact it was the footpath he would have taken. She came back about half an hour or so later.
Q. What time was this?
A. This must have been about 6.30 perhaps by now. I am not sure of the times. I was in a terrible state myself by
this time trying not to think awful things and trying to take each moment as it came.
Q. And Rachel gets back about 6.30.
A. Something like that.

Rachel gave her evidence on the same day and we have this (Mr Dingemans posing the questions again):

Q. On the 17th we have heard about the circumstances in which your mother contacted you.
A. Yes.
Q. I think you came and helped look for your father?
A. I did, yes. I came over -- Mum told me that Dad had gone for a walk; and we are actually quite a private family and I assumed that after all he had been through he would want to find some solitude, which I quite understood. I thought he had perhaps gone for a walk down to the river. I could quite understand that need in him. So initially I did not worry. But When he then -- I could not reach him on his mobile phone, which
did make me worry because I could always reach him. I then dashed home and was talking to my sisters. Mum actually was not very well and I was torn between leaving Mum and going to look for Dad. Initially I walked down -- I just assumed he would be coming home by now and I walked down to see if he was coming. Then I went back home and then went out in the car and just searched all the local routes. I went actually down to Harrowdown first, that was my first thought, and looked at the track but I could not see him coming. I promised I would not leave the car and start walking as it was starting to -- it was quite an overcast night. 

I think that it was quite understandable for a young woman on her own to be concerned about going up the track to Harrowdown Hill on an overcast evening.  Even if she had followed the track I'm sure that she wouldn't have seen the spot where her father was discovered the following morning, unless she went into the wood.

Civil servant James Harrison was the Deputy Director for Counter Proliferation and Arms Control in the MOD.  In the late afternoon of the 17th he tried contacting Dr Kelly on his mobile phone to resolve some points about Dr Kelly's press contacts but to no avail.  He also spoke to Mrs Kelly and made a note of the conversation with her as seen at MOD/13/0032 
Mr Knox seeks clarification about the note and the following relates to its first paragraph:

Q. We know at MoD/13/32 you appear to have made a note of your last conversation.
A. Indeed, yes.
Q. Perhaps you could just clarify one or two words.  "Rang Mrs K about 1750 or so."
I am not quite sure, the words you have inserted  then are?
A. "Having tried mobile -- rang, no answer."
Q. And then?  

A. I am afraid I am not sure what the blob is. 
Q. Then after that? 
A. "To see if back", i.e. if David was back yet. "Gone for a walk by the river. Bad headache. Had intended to go about 2 o'clock, but delayed [by phone calls?].  Sometimes goes on long route."    

Mrs Kelly hadn't said anything in her evidence about a walk by the river but she seems to be sure that is what has happened.  Rachel wonders if he had gone down to the river.  Did she impart that thought to her mother with the latter believing that is where he had gone and then Mrs Kelly telling Mr Harrison the same as a fact.  Possible perhaps but difficult to really believe.  I'm assuming that "Bad headache" refers to the fact that Mrs Kelly had a bad headache - but is this right?  Perhaps Dr Kelly had had a bad headache, we just don't know.

What we do know though is that the last quoted evidence was given by Mr Harrison on his first visit to the Inquiry, on the 27 August, less than a week before the testimony from Mrs Kelly was heard.  If Hutton was honest, competent and diligent - as we have every right to expect - then he should have asked Mrs Kelly about the supposed walk by the river.  This wasn't an isolated failing on the part of his Lordship, again and again and again he failed in his duty to adequately investigate matters.

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