Sunday, 5 August 2012

The search helicopter - some useful information

Evidence at the Hutton Inquiry about the search helicopter was given by Mrs Kelly.  Subsequently DS Webb and ACC Page referred to the helicopter but revealed little other than at some unspecified time Sergeant Morris had called for its use.

MP Norman Baker wasn't very happy about the paucity of detail and in 2006 asked questions.  The ministerial responses were from Mr Ingram on 2 June and from Mr McNulty on 6 July and 13 September.  The respective Hansard entries regarding the three questions and answers can be read at and and

When one reads these ministerial responses it can be seen just how far removed the facts given are from the comments made by Mrs Kelly.  According to McNulty at least the helicopter search started at 02.50 rather than at about 1 o'clock - the time that Mrs Kelly mentioned.  Also it was the Luton helicopter and not the Benson one.  There are two possibilities here it seems to me: either Mrs Kelly was hopelessly wrong or there was an earlier search that the authorities didn't want to reveal.

Number 73 in the "Schedule of responses to the issues raised" includes this information about the times of the helicopter search flights:

Two flights were made in the early hours of 18/7/03 as follows:
At 02.50 it deployed to search for Dr Kelly.
At 03.20 it arrived on scene
At 04.05 running low on fuel it went to base to refuel.

At 04.25 hrs it re-launched.
At 04.35 hrs it arrived back on scene
At 04.45 hrs it resumed back to base. (The pilot was running out of legal flying hours.)

From these figures it can be seen that the first search took 45 minutes  but that the second after refuelling was just 10 minutes because the pilot was at risk of going over his permitted flying hours.

At 5.15 on the morning of 18 July ACC Page chairs a meeting and Mr Dingemans asks him about it:

Q. What was the result of your meeting at 5.15?
A. Well the result of my meeting was that we began to establish a search pattern. As a holding measure,  I asked for officers who were reinforcement officers who were arriving about this stage -- we had between 30 and 40 officers available to us, and I asked them to start searching outward from Dr Kelly's house. I asked for the helicopter to be brought into play again.

There is no record of the helicopter being brought into play again.  As we know from the information above the pilot was running out of legal flying hours but wasn't there another pilot available?  Whatever Hutton fails to ask questions about this.

No comments:

Post a Comment