Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Death of David Kelly - Operation Mason - Where are they now?

In an earlier post, The Death of Dr. David Kelly - The enigmatic "Operation Mason", I drew attention to what I believe to be the most credible interpretation of the nature of Operation Mason, in the light of the very limited amount of information that is available publicly.

I thought it might be useful briefly to look at the subsequent careers of two individuals that I think were probably closely associated with Operation Mason on 17th and 18th July 2003.

We know that the then DCI Alan Young was in charge of Operation Mason.

But, hitherto, I'm not aware of anyone asking who appointed DCI Young as officer in charge of Operation Mason.

Just as ACC Page appointed DCI Young to head the investigation into the discovery of a body at Harrowdown Hill, we might ask who would be likely to have appointed DCI Young to head up Operation Mason.

Let's assume that Michael Page was simply the "on call" Assistant Chief Constable during the night of 17th to 18th July 2003 which explains why it was he, so we are led to believe, who appointed DCI Young to head up the investigation into a body being discovered on Harrowdown Hill.

However, Operation Mason started at 14:30 on 17th July 2003 i.e. during normal office hours. So, who would have been the relevant ACC for a "major incident" such as Operation Mason?

The most likely candidate is, I suggest, the then ACC Sara Thornton.

In July 2003 Sara Thornton was Assistant Chief Constable, Special Operations, for Thames Valley Police. See Chief Constable Sara Thornton.

Sara Thornton is now Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police. Hasn't Sara Thornton done well for herself?

But what of DCI Alan Young? Where is he now?

As far as I can trace online he's disappeared. He was still with Thames Valley Police in 2007 as a Detective Superintendent.

But then he, so it seems, vanishes. At least in online sourcs of information.

Nothing about a retirement or a death, that I can trace.

No "Alan Young" currently in Thames Valley Police, so it seems. No "Superintendent Alan Young" in any other UK police force.

He's vanished.

Can anyone help with this miniscule mystery?


  1. I just wonder who was described in this Hutton Inquiry exchange involving a curiously unnamed senior female police officer....
    QC: "The area commander is what rank?"
    Mr Page:"Chief Superintendent. She..... raised it [the medium risk assessment of Dr Kelly's disappearance] somewhat higher and she rang me almost immediately."
    In the current area command structure of TVP,the overall Basic Command Unit Commander Oxfordshire is a Chief Superintendent, but the Area Commander for the Vale of the White Horse, in which Dr Kelly disappeared, is presently a Chief Inspector.

  2. Actually there is nothing actually to connect DCI Alan Young directly with TVP apart from one of those rarely publicly Hutton Inquiry accessible documents here - a fax to 01993 886525 to DCI Alan Young at Thames Valley Police Long Hanborough Major Crime Unit, TVP. (where the exhibits were kept)
    However Mr Page is vague:
    "Well, from my perspective I appointed a senior investigating officer, a man who would, if you like, carry out the technical issues around the investigation." (perspective???) I fail to see why he didn't name Mr Young.

    Norman Baker raised the issue on 5th March 2010 in the House of Commons Hansard,p1188 (he erroneously says that Mr Young was not even mentioned in the Hutton Inquiry). Mr Baker says that Young has been promoted , but where is the evidence?
    Mr Baker in his book states that he was in contact with Mr Young about the choice of the name Mason which is also where the promotion to Superintendent seems to come from. But as you notice, Mr Young leaves no trace on the internet apart from the connection with Operation Mason and being involved with finding Dr Kelly.
    The Long Hanborough Incident room, phone no 01993 886530 also leaves an almost silent internet presence. It does crop up elsewhere at the Hutton Inquiry over the shaggy dog story of Dr Kelly being photographed in 1993 with Andrew Gilligan in Moscow,and a DS McGuire is noted at Long Hanborough. I guess it was a short lived incident room for this inquiry. Only PC Sawyer identifies Mr Young at the Hutton Inquiry.(when questioned about his base), Mr Sawyer of the TVP uses the strange phrase "That (the police station where he is based )would be from the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park." (why conditional?) Incidentally, PC Dean Franklin is quite direct, saying " I am a police constable with the police support team.... based at the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park." No ambiguity there.

    The Search Team Leader PC Sawyer gave no fewer than three witness statements to TVP which were not released but appeared before the Inquiry. Mr Young gave no witness statement to the Hutton Inquiry,neither did he appear as is well known.
    Mr Sawyer says he was instructed by Mr Young to do the fingertip search of the common approach path. Mr Sawyer subsequently identifies the Senior Investigating Officer as Mr Young. And that is that.

  3. Felix

    The shadowy DCI Young is actually name checked by both PC Sawyer and PC Franklin. PC Franklin's testimony indicates I think that he had to go over to the DCI to keep him updated with the search progress. I'll have to read the evidence again but think that DCI Young is in the area where the white tent is (in the nearby field). He may not be in the white tent, my own thought is that he is in a vehicle that has radio contact with somewhere (?).

  4. Felix,

    The command structure in 2003 and 2010 could be quite different.

    Having said that an FOI request could turn up the information, I guess.

  5. Felix,

    A very interesting obervation that DCI Young didn't give a witness statement to Hutton.

    Another hint that Hutton wasn't terribly interested in the technicalities!

  6. Andrew,

    I don't think we need a FOI. The TVP Command Unit was based then and now on District Council Boundaries (in Oxfordshire certainly). Dave Purnell was I reckon the Area Commander for Vale of White Horse as Chief Inspector before and after the Kelly incident but appearing as Acting Superintendent when giving press releases at Abingdon.
    Different Area Command units seem to attract different ranks.
    In 2003, as far as I can tell, the Area Commander for South Oxfordshire, based in Didcot was Katherine Govier who was a Chief Superintendent (her female replacement in 2004 was only a Superintendent) and Ms Govier has done very well

    Why on earth Mr Page should hide the identity of a bone fide senior police officer mystifies me. However, perhaps someone can correct me, if Sgt Morris is from Abingdon, then his Area Commander wouldn't be from Didcot. That would be Mr Purnell. So why is he contacting the South Oxfordshire Area Commander, not that of Vale of White Horse? And if we are to believe Mr Page, Ms Govier phoned him about 3am. I guess the answer lies in Oxfordshire having its police control room at Abingdon and perhaps Ms Govier was the senior Area Commander under the Control Unit.
    Now get this, Sgt Morris was first on the scene, called out the helicopter. Called up the Area Commander. Does he appear as a witness? No. Does he give a statement to the Hutton Inquiry? NO! He is only named as Sergeant Morris. No other name.

    Finally, I see that Long Hanborough is a Covert Operations Room

  7. Andrew

    Go back and read ACC Page's questioning. Why on earth is he so evasive of everything? Why not mention the Tactical Support of Thames Valley by name? It isn't secret. Why not name the female Chief Superintendent? She obviously exists. Why vaguely describe people coming from Milton Keynes?
    "And I asked for a sergeant from Milton Keynes who had undertaken a lot of work nationally in respect of the assessment of missing persons" Did the the mounted branch,also from Milton Keynes,ever arrive?. (Still TVP area)
    [Currently the mounted branch comprises 1 sergeant, 8 PCs and 9 horses, under Tactical Support.]
    Now, where does DCI Alan Young come from? Well, in 2006, he is in Milton Keynes as a Detective Superintendent (as noted by Norman Baker), here during 2006; perhaps during 2003 also.
    Prior to that he was also thanked for (policing, I guess) advice on this novel Aftermath by Peter Robinson and perhaps others in the televised Inspector Banks series. along with, inter alia, Philip Gormley.
    Philip Gormley was between 1999 and Jan 2003 AREA COMMANDER FOR SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE just prior to Katherine Govier, before becoming a Commander in the Met in Jan 2003 He is now Chief Constable of Norfolk since Jan 2010.
    Well, fancy that!
    Peter Robinson is actually British, but has lived since 1974 in Canada.

  8. Felix,

    You're right, I believe, to question the nature of ACC Page's evidence to Hutton.

    It's on my list to write a post about when time allows.