A post by Brian Spencer on his blog, A comment or two on Dr Hunt's Report, triggered a line of thought in my mind, about something seemingly unconnected - the mysterious Operation Mason (see my comment here on Brian's blog).
We know very little about Operation Mason, since Lord Hutton chose to withhold the information about it.
There are only two references to Operation Mason on the Hutton Inquiry web site, that I can find.
The first is the more informative and is on the Evidence submitted to the Inquiry by Thames Valley Police page. The Operation Mason material is a long way down the page.
The following information appears about Operation Mason on that page on the Hutton Inquiry web site:
TVP Tactical Support Major Incident Policy Book: Operation 'Mason' Between 1430 17.07.03 and 0930 18.07.03, DCI Alan Young - not for release - Police operational information
TVP/10/0099 - 0105
Not much to go on, perhaps.
What does that limited information tell us?
1. Operation Mason has something to do with "tactical support".
2. Operation Mason is, at least in some sense, related to a "major incident".
3. Operation Mason began at 14.30 on 17th July 2003 (about half an hour before Dr. Kelly left his home for the last time).
4. Operation Mason ended at 09.30 on 18th July 2003 (a few minutes after a body resembling that of David Kelly was found at Harrowdown Hill)!
5. DCI Alan Young was, in all likelihood, in charge of Operation Mason.
6. Operation Mason was a police operation, in all likelihood a Thames Valley Police operation.
7. In some sense there was a Thames Valley Police "policy" relating to whatever it was that Operation Mason concerned itself with.
If we spend a moment trying to put those seven points into some sort of coherent whole, some very interesting thoughts arise.
1. A Thames Valley Police major incident started at a time when Dr. David Kelly was still at home (i.e. 14.30 on 17th July 2003).
2. As far as the publicly available storyline from the Hutton Inquiry is concerned there was no incident at all at 14.30 on 17th July 2003.
3. Yet, at a time when there was no incident of any kind (at least reported by the public), that is when Thames Valley Police start a "major incident" following a "policy book".
4. Perhaps most intriguingly of all Operation Mason ended at 09.30 on 18th July.
5. What could be the reason for ending Operation Mason at 09.30? It was only a few minutes since the body had been found at Harrowdown Hill. It wasn't conclusively known if the body was Dr. David Kelly. It wasn't known if the person was alive or dead (other than on the basis of the observation of a lay volunteer searcher, Louise Holmes). Yet, Thames Valley Police (presumably specifically DCI Alan Young) terminated Operation Mason.
You may have alternative hypotheses about what all that means but here's my take on Operation Mason.
Not surprisingly, it raises some very disturbing possibilities about the conduct of Thames Valley Police on 17th and 18th July 2003.
Some of what follows is pretty inescapable from the few facts we know. Some is more conjectural.
1. The initiating person who caused Operation Mason to be started at 14.30 on 17th July 2003 wasn't a member of the public.
2. The circumstances that provided the context for Operation Mason were defined in the Policy Book.
3. The initiating person or organisation had authority to initiate a "major incident".
4. No incident of a conventional kind merited Police action at 14.30 on 17th July 2003.
5. I conclude that Operation Mason was initiated by an agent or agency of the UK Government at 14.30 or thereby on 17th July 2003. I can see no logical explanation for the initiating agent or agency not having the preceding characteristics.
6. The most likely nature of Operation Mason was concern by a security service that Dr. Kelly might release "sensitive information".
7. The possibility exists that Dr. David Kelly was under surveillance by Thames Valley Police from 14.30 on 17th July 2003.
8. Dr. Kelly was reported missing at around 23.40 on 17th July 2003.
9. A body, later identified as Dr. Kelly was found by Louise Holmes at roughly 09.20 on 18th July 2003. (The time of finding the body is something I have questions about but won't pursue here.)
10. Some 10 minutes after a body is found, Operation Mason closes. The body has not been positively identified. Nor has it been confirmed by anyone with appropriate training that the body is a dead body.
11. At around 10.07 the paramedics confirm death of the body, using ECG evidence.
The unwholesome possibility is that someone of significant seniority in or close to the British security service ordered a Thames Valley Police operation, a "major incident" as defined in the Policy Book, at 14.30 on 17th July 2003 and was content that the perceived problem had been solved when David Kelly's body was found at 09.20 or thereby on 18th July 2003.
In all likelihood, Dr. Kelly was under observation by Thames Valley Police from that time point of 14.30 on 17th July 2003, or soon thereafter.
The "fortuitous" meeting of DC Coe and Ms Absalom on the morning of 18th July becomes obvious, if it's true that David Kelly was under observation when he spoke to Ms Absalom, sometime after 15.00 on 17th July 2003.
How is the termination of Operation Mason to be explained? The body that Louise Holmes found wasn't known to be dead and it wasn't known to be David Kelly.
At least those crucial facts weren't publicly known.
The only credible explanation in my view is that Thames Valley Police already knew the identity and location of the body and already knew that the body was a dead body.
It seems to me that three possibilities exist in the light of this consideration of Operation Mason.
1. Thames Valley Police allowed David Kelly to kill himself. Despite knowing his identity and location they allowed him to bleed to death.
2. Thames Valley Police allowed person or persons unknown to murder David Kelly.
3. A member of Thames Valley Police murdered David Kelly.
Of course, none of those possibilities sheds a positive light on Thames Valley Police, to put it at its mildest.
I can put no less unwholesome construction on the available facts. Can you?