Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Death of David Kelly - the fundamental questions Thames Valley Police should have been asking on 18th July 2003

David Kelly was reported missing shortly before midnight on 17th July 2003.

At around 05.15 on 18th July 2003 a significant number of police officers met to consider the situation and how to proceed. See, for example, the transcript of the evidence of Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page on the morning of Wednesday 3rd September 2003 at pages 17 to 21.

It was obvious that Dr. Kelly's disappearance should not be treated as a routine missing person inquiry. And, from the beginning, Thames Valley Police had not done so, for example sending up a helicopter with heat seeking equipment within hours of the disappearance being reported.

However, lots of activity is no substitute for asking the right questions.

Of course, there was a possibility that Dr. Kelly might be found safe and well.

However, a competent and diligent police force had to consider less congenial possibilities, including the possible discovery of Dr. Kelly's body.

In the event that a body was found it was already obvious that an unusual set of circumstance surrounded Dr. Kelly's disappearance.

The possible causes of death should already have been in the minds of detectives at the 05.15 meeting.

And, crucially important, someone should have been considering how to collect evidence that would allow the correct cause of death to be established.

Even prior to Dr. Kelly's body being found the Police should have been considering how to investigate any of the following possibilities and how to distinguish between them:

1. Natural causes

2. Accident

3. Murder

4. Suicide

Given the nature of the circumstances, particular attention ought to have been given to the possibility that murder could be dressed up as suicide.

In other words, from the beginning the collection of evidence and the interpretation of it should have considered the possibility of highly skilled third party involvement where murder was dressed up as suicide.

I can find no evidence given to Hutton that indicates that the possibility of murder dressed up as suicide featured significantly in the thinking of Thames Valley Police.

If such thinking was absent then, in my view, Thames Valley Police were grossly negligent.

If the question of murder dressed up as suicide wasn't seriously considered then the failures which follow become much easier to understand.


  1. I think that the TVP should have quickly realised too that bearing in mind Dr Kelly's status a murder scenario would very likely be a state killing, whether it was the UK or another country responsible. Hence a murder dressed up as suicide would be carried out in a far more sophisticated manner than that by an "average" criminal, the sort of person they would more routinely deal with.

    I believe that the TVP had convinced themselves on the day the body was discovered (the 18th) that this was a case of tragic suicide and the opinions of Dr Hunt and later Professor Hawton would have entrenched their views to the extent that any later contrary evidence would be fairly quickly dismissed. As an example it seems that Mai Pederson was flagging up her understanding of Dr Kelly's elbow problem and difficulty in swallowing pills when the police interviewed her. No formal statement unfortunately but ACC Page says he has a record of the interviews (plural) that took place. When Mr Dingemans asked "Were you able to obtain any relevant information from her?" there is a one sentence dismissal "The conversation with Mai Pederson added nothing that was of relevance to my inquiry at all". Really?

    I notice that Page states that TVP took 300 statements. Although I haven't counted how many of these were lodged with the inquiry it appears that the number was a small fraction of this. Certainly there is no record of the Pederson conversations being there. A statement that was lodged though was that from DC Coe - I wonder if the number and status of officers with him as recorded in the statement matched what he described at the Inquiry!

  2. Brian,

    Yes state actors are possible.

    Meantime, I'm content to allude to "highly skilled third party involvement".

    ACC Page's comment is very interesting. And also worrying.

    In an earlier post,, I raised the question of whether or not the Thames Valley Police had inquired into whether or not David Kelly was incapacitated in how he could use his right hand.

    In this article,, Mai Pederson is quoted as stating that she had told the Police about the weakness of Dr. Kelly's right hand.

    If there was a possibility that David Kelly's right hand was weak, then when that hand is assumed to have inflicted the wounds in the left wrist information about that weakness is potentially of crucial significance!

  3. Andrew

    Toward the bottom of the list of documents lodged by TVS to the Inquiry are various items relating to DK's medical history and I would expect that all relevant information about DK's consultations and treatments to be available (in confidence of course).

    I notice that there is a Trauma Service Medical Summary dated 04.02.92 and a Physiotherapy Service Report dated 24.02.92 which, in the absence of other evidence, makes me think that this might be the elbow operation.

    If this is surmise on my part what I can say for sure is that the questioning by Mr Knox of Dr Warner (Dr Kelly's GP) was ridiculously minimal. Mr Knox it would seem had the relevant information in front of him about DK's medical history when it is he Knox who states that DK was last prescribed medication in 1994. It is a pity that Knox doesn't pursue the matter of what sort of medication this was - it may not have been pills of course, it may have been an ointment or a liquid medicine. Discussing the elbow operation could have led to relevant information about the lack of ability for Dr Kelly to use his right hand.

    It would be interesting to know, in the light of the comments made by Mai Pederson, whether DK had ever taken pills. I don't think that Mrs Kelly was asked about DK's elbow or alleged aversion to pills either. If the press story is correct about Ms Pederson's comments to the police then it is quite incredible that her conversations weren't made available to Lord Hutton so that he could have at least tested the elbow and pills remarks in the examination of both Dr Warner and Mrs Kelly.

  4. Brian,

    Many thanks. I'd spotted the reports you mention. As you righly say their contents are not publicly available in any case.

    I'm not sure that David Kelly had an elbow "operation"? A fracture is pretty sure, I think. Was it operated on? I'm not sure.

    A tiny detail, really. Sorry for nit picking, but I think it's important to get every detail right, so far as possible.

    If you're aware of evidence of an "operation" do you have a link or source?

    The important aspect is that he seemed to have pain and disability in 2003, according to Mai Pederson's evidence.

    And the only mentions of "elbow" in the Hutton transcripts don't relate to any injury of David Kelly's right one.

    You're right about the inadequacy of questioning of Dr. Warner on these points.

    If David Kelly was in ongoing pain (as Mai Pederson's evidence suggests) but wasn't taking any prescribed medication, it certainly suggests an aversion to swallowing pills.

  5. I evidently started my last comment above just before Andrew published his post on Mai Pederson. My observation's appear to mirror those of Andrew.

  6. Brian,

    I've separated this out since I didn't want it to be lost at the end of a long comment.

    If the press story is correct about Ms Pederson's comments to the police then it is quite incredible that her conversations weren't made available to Lord Hutton so that he could have at least tested the elbow and pills remarks in the examination of both Dr Warner and Mrs Kelly.

    Unfortunately, it seems that Mai Pedersen only consented to her information being used at the Hutton Inquiry if it was unattributable. (At least that's my current understanding.)

    That potentially made it easier for ACC Page to get away with his remark about Mai Pederson's evidence containing nothing of relevance to the the inquiry.

  7. Andrew

    You are absolutely right to nit pick! To be honest I'm not sure about an operation on Dr Kelly's elbow now, it's possible I read something and inadvertently put a wrong interpretation on it.