Monday, 13 August 2012

Poor performance by Mr Dingemans

The 18th July 2003 was a very busy day in the Dr Kelly affairAt about 9.15 that morning search dog Brock discovered Dr Kelly's body.  According to a press report Mrs Kelly told her brother that morning that her husband had committed suicide.  With the same certainty Mrs Kelly told the New York Times that the police had told her that her husband had committed suicide, all this before Dr Hunt had completed his post mortem and whilst the police were publically saying that it was an unexplained death.

On the legal front developments were equally swift.  Mr Blair very quickly agreed with Lord Falconer that there should be a judge led inquiry.  Although Falconer was to say that the number of suitably experienced judges available to him was in the tens he picked Hutton without any real consideration of the merits of others.  Hutton himself was no slouch because, before the day was out, he had appointed James Dingemans QC to be his senior counsel at the Inquiry.

What do we know of Dingemans?  There are some biographical details on the Hutton website  It is noticeable that his normal practice areas are unrelated to the task given him by Hutton.  I was also surprised to see that he was aged just under 40 at the time of the Inquiry which seems to me to be quite young for the responsibility demanded of him.

His performance at the Inquiry wasn't good enough.  This is part of his exchange with Mrs Kelly:

Q. We have heard about the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death and the fact that a knife was used. Were you shown the knife at all?
A. We were not shown the knife; we were shown a photocopy
of I presume the knife which we recognised as a knife he had had for many years and kept in his drawer.

At that point in time no evidence had been given in open court 'that a knife was used'.  Such factual inaccuracy by counsel in a public inquiry is completely unacceptable.

Moving on to the co-proxamol we have this:

Q. We have also heard that some co-proxamol was used.
A. Indeed.

A false statement again Mr Dingemans!  At that stage we hadn't heard.

The following exchange with Mrs Kelly, about the source of the co-proxamol, I have covered in this post   In it I berated Dingemans for his leading question to the witness.

In another post  Dingemans latches on to the fact that the majority of suicides don't leave notes.  He completely ignores the character of the deceased in assessing the likelihood of the person concerned writing a note.  Dr Kelly had arranged to see one of his daughters Rachel that very day apart from the fact she was due to marry in a few months time.  It is ridiculous to ignore the personal circumstances at the time in question when discussing the lack of a suicide note.

In this post I had discussed Mr Green's totally speculative comment about the leaf litter having absorbed blood.  Dingemans played his part in the speculation by comparing the imagined absorption of blood by the leaf litter to the action of blotting paper.  He repeats that description in his closing statement and goes further by transforming Mr Green's speculation into fact.

It might be that Dingemans has spouted other inaccuracies, the ones quoted are familiar to me but others might well be lurking on the Hutton website.


  1. Dingemans seems to have laid out his stall nicely as a top QC for any subsequent inquiries - see the cast at this late 2011 Butterworth's Conference on Public Inquiries:
    Lee Hughes, Martin Smith, Lord Hutton, James Dingemans et al.
    09.30 An insight into the running of a public inquiry Lord Hutton...

    I think I could answer one of the closing session questions myself..What to expect at the end of an inquiry

  2. It's a shame that I missed this conference .....