Sunday, 19 August 2012

Paul Chapman - introduction and briefing

As was the case with Louise Holmes I will look at the evidence of her search partner Paul Chapman both at the Hutton Inquiry and that part of his witness statement that has been subsequently revealed.  I shall also need to compare his evidence with that of Ms Holmes and see if it suggests any anomalies.

This is his testimony at the Inquiry up until the end of his briefing:

LORD HUTTON: Thank you very much indeed, Ms Holmes. Thank you.
Mr Dingemans, I understand that Mr Chapman is going to give evidence. Would he like to give evidence from where he is sitting?
MR DINGEMANS: I think Mr Chapman wants to go into the
witness box, my Lord, but he has broken his leg so it will take a bit of time to get there.
LORD HUTTON: Very well, I will just rise.
(11.00 am)
(Short Break)
(11.02 am)
Examined by MR DINGEMANS.
MR DINGEMANS: Can you tell his Lordship your full name.
A. Paul Philip Sam Chapman.
Q. What is your occupation?
A. I work for Prudential in Reading. 

Works for a major insurance company.  Particularly aware then of knowing the importance of accuracy and honesty in answering questions.  Mr Dingemans of course would know exactly what Ms Holmes said in her evidence a few minutes before.

Q. Do you take part in any other voluntary activities?
A. Yes, I am a member of the Scouts Association and a search controller and team leader for SEBEV Search and Rescue.
Q. We can see you have a broken leg; did that have anything to do with what you are about to give evidence about?
A. No, none whatsoever. I dislocated my knee falling down some stairs.
Q. Were you called to assist in the search for Dr Kelly?
A. I was.
Q. When did you get that call?
A. I got an initial page soon after 5 o'clock on the 18th.

Q. In the morning or evening?
A. In the morning. And then a further text message to indicate we had a call out.

The timing of the initial page is significant and is indicative of his supervisor paging him before ACC Page's major meeting that started at about 5.15.  Evidently he would ultimately be resposible when out on the search, rather than Ms Holmes, because of his position as a search controller and team leader with SEBEV.

Q. What did you do as a result of those messages?
A. I replied to the text message to say I was available for the search and could attend at any time that day.
Q. What did you do? Did you attend anywhere?
A. Yes. Once the call out went live I got my kit together and attended Abingdon police station, where the RV point was.
Q. What does your kit consist of?
A. Carried in there is standard walking equipment, walking boots, waterproofs, torch and an initial supply of food and water for 24 hours.
Q. Have you received training for these tasks?
A. Yes.
Q. What form does the training take?
A. It is a weekend course called a basic search technicians course run by SEBEVs, which is one of the leading training establishments in the country for search and rescue, one of only three. Then ongoing training on a weekly basis through the group.
Q. So where did you go for your briefing?
A. Abingdon police station.
Q. How many other people were at the briefing?

A. There were a couple of police officers, my search manager, Neil Knight and Louise Holmes.
Q. Who gave the briefing itself?
A. The search manager, Neil Knight gave me details of our search.
Q. What were you told?
A. I was told the missing person's name, we were given a photo of him, description of what he was wearing.
Q. The name you were given?
A. David Kelly.
Q. What were you told he was wearing?
A. As far as I remember it was a jacket, a shirt and trousers. I cannot remember the -- the colours were written on the sheet, the descriptions.

Assuming accurate recall then it seems that Dr Kelly was last seen wearing his jacket and this accords with the earlier testimony of Ruth Absalom.  The early press reports of him not wearing a jacket now seem very odd.  There are suggestions that the weather on the 17th wasn't totally dry and I get the impression that Dr Kelly habitually wore his Barbour jacket.  Even though it was quite hot the only layer beneath the coat was a short sleeved shirt and I don't have a problem with him taking his Barbour even on a warm July day.  In my experience people vary enormously in what they consider is the right amount of clothing in any given situation.  Dr Kelly kept his jacket on (but not a Barbour of course) at the televised FAC meeting whereas I suspect many would have taken it off in those circumstances.

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