Sunday, 5 December 2010

The death of David Kelly - Where did the gaffer tape story originate?

The knife found beside David Kelly's body reportedly had no recoverable fingerprints.

One story that is doing the rounds is that the knife was covered with gaffer tape and (so the story goes) it is difficult or impossible to recover fingerprints from gaffer tape.

One question that occurred to me is where did the gaffer tape story originate?

I could find no mention of gaffer tape on the Hutton Inquiry web site.

The earliest mention of gaffer tape supposedly on the knife that I can find is from 4th July 2010 in a comment here from Tom Mangold.

Mangold wrote:

The pruning knife used by David to cut his wrist was covered in gaffer-tape, as are many knives, to prevent the fingers slipping on to the blade and provide a firmer grip. It is almost impossible to retrieve finger prints from this kind of material. For what its worth, I believe that had the government allowed a normal inquest to take place then the fruit-cake theories would never have gained traction.

Shortly thereafter other journalists, Andrew Gilligan being one example, pick up the story, David Kelly was not murdered:

The absence of fingerprints on the knife may be explained by the fact that the knife handle was reportedly covered in gaffer tape, which does not easily hold fingerprints, or by the fact that it spent the night in the open. Importantly, the knife itself was one that David kept in his study and which had belonged to him from boyhood.

And, inevitably, the gaffer tape story echoes on round the Internet.

Is this 4th July 2010 mention of gaffer tape by Tom Mangold the first mention of the supposed story?

And is it true that gaffer tape doesn't hold fingerprints?


  1. Andrew, I was under the impression that this knife had a folding blade (like a penknife)
    Am I wrong in this assumption?
    If it did I fail to see how it could be "covered in gaffer tape"

  2. Andrew
    I am happy to do a simple FOIR tomorrow on this. Interesting that nobody at Hutton is commenting on gaffer tape. Significantly in his report Dr Hunt refers to blood on both the handle and blade of the knife but no mention of gaffer or any other tape or anything else on the knife handle!

  3. Ffrank,

    On page 34 of the transcript here, PC Franklin states the following:

    12 Q. And what did the knife look like?
    13 A. The blade was open. It was some sort of lock knife. I
    14 cannot be that precise. I believe it had a curved --
    15 slight curve to the blade. The blade was maybe 3 to
    16 4 inches long.

    If there was any gaffer tape on the knife (which, so far as I'm aware is an open question) then it's possible it could have been applied in strips along the handle.

  4. Brian,

    Yes a carefully worded FOI request should elicit the relevant information.

    By the way, earlier today I put in an FOI request regarding whether or not there were fingerprints on the mobile phone found in the Barbour pocket. So far as I'm aware that question hadn't been asked before.

  5. Andrew,
    I have been talking to Brian and giving a lot of thought to the toxicology report with reference to the levels and ratios of toxins and metabolites in the stomach and the blood and the urine etc.
    Do you intend to put in any more FOI requests in this area?

  6. The gaffer tape story was issued first by Tom Mangold. Is it that -- just a story? If, as I believe, it wasn't mentioned at the Hutton Inquiry, how did Mangold know about it?

  7. Rowena,
    I see no reason why Mangold should invent the gaffer tape story, so could this just be yet another bit of mis-information?
    And is Mangold an unwitting recipient for such information?

  8. I have today made a FOI request to TVP asking them to tell me whether there was any material attached to the handle of the knife.