Monday, 13 December 2010

The death of David Kelly - A contemporary discussion

I thought it might be interesting for some readers of this blog to be aware of a contemporary discussion of the disappearance and death of David Kelly here:
Dr David Kelly.

It might help some who are interested in the death of David Kelly to reconstruct the sequence of events and crosscheck possible timelines.


  1. Interestingly, according to one post the "face down" body story is attributed to a Police spokeswoman.

    See here.

  2. Thanks for pointing to this discussion, Andrew.

    Already the first bizarre turn is picked up at about comment no. 5 - that there does not seem to be any urgency to identify the body found at Harrowown Hill - indeed A/Supt Dave Purnell states the same afternoon that it will not be identified until the following day (why on earth?) and after the PM as it turns out. And someone else already guesses almost immediately that an Inquiry will be held to bury it all

    There is also an early report of a heavy shower during the missing phase,which could be in any period between 3 and midnight. I am still baffled where the waxed jacket appeared from...

  3. Felix,

    Guessing here ... I wonder if the story about David Kelly going out without a description of him wearing a coat arises from Janice Kelly supposedly lying down when David Kelly went out.

    She would have seen him in the house with the pale coloured shirt on but couldn't (if she was in bed) have known which coat he might or might not have put on.

  4. I have to agree with Andrew. In my opinion it's probable that the Barbour jacket was on a hook somewhere near the front door and Mrs Kelly it seems didn't see him depart - putting on his coat might very well have been almost his last action before leaving the house.

    It is curious that reports circulated about him going out without a coat, the best evidence we have of the reality appears to be that given by Ruth Absalom who said 'he had obviously got a jacket on'. The police in giving a description of what DK was wearing when he went missing would I should have thought said that he might have been wearing a jacket. Having said that though surely Mrs K would have checked the coat rack, spotted the Barbour missing and informed the police accordingly?

    Felix, regarding the time of body ID. First thing - I see from bottom of the forum page that the times of comments are GMT+3 hours, which I think is BST+4 hours. There are links to the BBC news site but one needs to be careful about the BBC timings because it would have been a rolling news story with the page being updated at certain times. We can't therefore be certain as to the content on that page and its timing when a commenter is linking to it.

    The participants to the forum were writing in "real time" obviously and wouldn't have been aware of the degree of progress at Harrowdown Hill. Dr Hunt taking the rectal temperature at 19.15 and leaving at 19.19 indicates the earliest time that the body would have been collected. There was a window of opportunity in the evening for Mrs K to have been taken to Oxford to ID the body but I can't imagine that there should have been any doubt in the minds of the police about the ID of the body prior to formal identification on the following day.

  5. Fair points, Brian. It did seem that forum members were commenting on what The Guardian has subsequently established viz Dave Purnell gave his press statement at 3pm on 18 July and that no further statement was released until the next day when Purnell added details pointing to suicide at the time the identity was confirmed.
    If this is a normal suicide, perhaps a professional can compare what happened here with what tends to happen generally. We are not talking about seizing computer equipment at Harrowdown Hill are we? We are Just finding a body where suicide is obvious,and is confirmed as such the following day. What does happen in a normal suicide discovery in a rural location? How would Purnell know the timescale in early afternoon?
    I can't quickly find the time of the second press conference at Wantage.
    On 19th July, Judith Miller had already leaked Dr Kelly's email to her about the "dark actors" to the press.
    At 18.49 Saturday, this piece by Richard Norton-Taylor et al was published by the Guardian:
    Though the body will not be formally identified until today, police are certain it is that of Dr Kelly. Clothes on the body matched those the scientist had been wearing.

    The manner of his death remained unknown last night but it is understood investigators quickly ruled out natural causes.

    Suggestions that Dr Kelly, a father of three daughters, suffered shotgun injuries or that a rope was found at the scene were discounted by police sources. No suicide note has been found at the scene or at Dr Kelly's home.

    Police sources said the family did not report the disappearance more quickly because they were so sure that, despite the pressure he was under, he would not be driven to take his own life.

    How did they know what he was wearing?

    The BBC only broadcast the identification after Richard Sambrook consulted with the family.
    At 19.03hrs Sat 19 July,(BBC/17/0083) Sambrook sticks the knife in; Lord Hutton had already been pencilled in, apparently.(BBC News 20.54 hrs 19 July).

  6. The BBC reports at 20.54hrs Friday 18 July
    A BBC Spokesman said "Whilst Dr Kelly's family await the formal identification, it would not be appropriate for us to make any further statement." Why are Dr Kelly's family waiting for identification? I thought they would be the best candidates to do it?

    Brian- Dave Purnell seems already to know at 15.00hrs Friday that identification would not be until the next day. What happens normally at rural suicides when, as in this case, it all looked very normal and was confirmed as such the next day? It is not as if computer equipment was seized at Harrowdown Hill. I can't find the time of the Saturday press briefing at Wantage. At 19.06 hrs,the BBC's Richard Sambrook had already stuck the knife in(BBC/17/0082-3).

  7. This is what the Guardian published (timescale)
    "3.00pm. Police confirm the clothes on the body matched the description of those Dr Kelly was wearing when he left home at 3pm the day before, when he was wearing jeans, a white cotton shirt, a brown leather belt and brown shoes. However, Thames Valley police say they are conducting two separate investigations - one into Dr Kelly's disappearance and another into the identity of the body - and there is no official confirmation yet the body is that of Dr Kelly. Police later say there will be no formal identification until a postmortem is completed on Saturday"

    I see that the police "later said" there will be no identification that day, though I am unsure how it was communicated

  8. Felix, Regarding the comment from the BBC Spokesman I just think that it was a poor choice of words. It seems to me that in reality the BBC would understand that it was always going to be Mrs Kelly making the formal identification, it was unfortunate that the spokesman hadn't fully engaged brain and mouth.

    I suppose in many more obvious suicides there might not be the necessity to perform an internal examination. In this instance I would guess that an early judgement had been made that the police wouldn't be sure what time would be available on the 18th to ferry Mrs Kelly to the mortuary at the hospital. Much better perhaps then to wait to the next day when there would be plenty of time. That's my reading of it.

  9. I notice that Lord Hutton received this interesting letter dated 30 July 2003 from a certain Robert Henderson. Makes fascinating reading. I think perhaps we ought to have had the Henderson Inquiry.

  10. Felix, the Henderson letter is an excellent find!

  11. I found this today - may be of interest. I would have thought that perhaps the masts which were erected in Kelly's garden could have been suitable to trace his mobile phone whereabouts.

    Incidentally, Andrew, are you on leave or is this website now on hold waiting for the decision from 'the powers that be'?

  12. Sylvia,

    The masts in the garden weren't needed to locate Dr. Kelly's mobile phone.

    My understanding is that mobile phone companies routinely capture information about the location about all relevant mobile phones. Apparently the information is updated automatically every 15 minutes or so.

    That makes it all the more astonishing (and reprehensible) that Thames Valley Police appear not to have made any attempt to capture and use that kind of information.

    The Police could, for example, have established if Dr. Kelly's phone had moved in a way inconsistent with the "suicide hypothesis". It appears that they didn't bother to examine the possibility.

    The website isn't "on hold". A particularly nasty flu intervened.

  13. It's also inconceivable that they would scramble a police helicopter to search for such a high profile missing person without first attempting to locate Dr Kelly through his mobile phone signal.

  14. A very good point!

    I'm assuming that it's possible for the Police to get access "out of hours" to the mobile phone location.

  15. I'm a little surprised too that Mrs Kelly wasn't asked by Mr Dingemans whether she had tried to phone her husband's mobile although I believe that Rachel, in her evidence, recorded that she had tried to phone her father without success.

  16. A London-based CNN reporter, Jim Boulton reported on 18 July 2003 to his anchor in the USA, timed 09.07 ET i.e. 14.07 hrs London time:
    JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Bill. Good morning.

    Yes, police are saying that the body matches that of Dr. Kelly. The clothes on the body match that of what Dr. Kelly was wearing when he left his house yesterday.

    That is not a formal identification. They still have to do that in the next few hours and we probably won't get a formal announcement that it is in fact Dr. Kelly until tomorrow.

    Actually the earler morning press release said that Dr Kelly was wearing a shirt and jeans yet he was found wearing a Barbour coat!

    HEMMER: Jim, quickly here, underline this. Cause of death? Is that -- anywhere been reported yet?

    BOULDEN: Not at all, not at all. And it would be too soon to speculate about that.

  17. Link to CNN discussion here and earlier

  18. The Guardian piece, filed 18.49hrs Saturday 19 July 2003 from Richard Norton-Taylor et al says the body is still officially unidentified. they write Though the body will not be formally identified until today, police are certain it is that of Dr Kelly. Clothes on the body matched those the scientist had been wearing.

    The manner of his death remained unknown last night but it is understood investigators quickly ruled out natural causes.
    ...becase, no doubt, of the carefully placed co-proxamol pack,water bottle and knife, plus blood. As johncole notes in the straightdope forum:
    TV News bulletin reports that the cause of death is now confirmed as "loss of blood".

    Knife and bottle of co-proxamol (prescription pain-killer) found nearby.

    This would have been obvious when the body was first located, but the police would have required a postmortem to eliminate other causes and confirm toxicology.
    . Suicide is being spun far too early and the UK press is asking no questions, only posters on forums.

    However "staff and agencies" reported for the Guardian at 15.42 hrs Saturday 19 July 2003, Police formally identify the body of David Kelly that
    Police confirmed earlier today that the body found yesterday morning was that of Dr David Kelly, and revealed that he bled to death from a cut on his left wrist.

    Acting Superintendent David Purnell confirmed that formal identification of the body had been completed, and that a post mortem had established that the cause of death was haemorrhaging from a wound to his left wrist. "Whilst our enquiries are continuing there is no indication at this stage of any other party being involved," he said.

    An open packet of the prescription-only painkiller Co-proxamol and a knife have been recovered from the scene.