Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Death of David Kelly - How was the DNA matching done?

Sometime around the time that the body was found at Harrowdown Hill, David Kelly's dentist found that his dental records were missing.

Despite a Thames Valley Police investigation they could not be located.

Mysteriously, a short time (a few days?) later the dental records reappeared. At least, dental records that purported to be the dental records of David Kelly were located.

Supposedly Thames Valley Police then identified (or confirmed the identification of) the body at Harrowdown Hill as being David Kelly on DNA evidence.

The basic question, of course not examined at the Hutton Inquiry, was how the supposed DNA matching was done.

Was there a DNA profile for Dr. David Kelly on file? If so, who held that file? Given his trips to Iraq in the past it might be reasonable for fingerprints and DNA to be held on file, in case he was the victim of a roadside bomb, for example.

Alternatively were DNA samples taken from family members in July 2003, for example from one or more of David Kelly's daughters? That would allow the DNA techniques used to establish paternity to be adapted to this situation.

We're not told which of these approaches, if any, was used.

The only "evidence" that the body is David Kelly's is an assertion unsupported by any expert testimony that the DNA matched.

If the purpose of the (assumed) break-in at the dental surgery wsa to falsify David Kelly's dental records, wouldn't the same party/parties have had the foresight potentially to have taken the steps to falsify any DNA profile on file?

Below is ACC Page's oral testimony about the dental records given on the afternoon of Tuesday 23rd September 2003 (see pages 202 and 203):

9 Q. Were you ever contacted by Dr Kelly's dentist?
10 A. Yes, we did receive a telephone call from Dr Kelly's
11 dentist, shortly -- I cannot recall whether it was on
12 the day that he died or the day after but we did receive
13 a call, yes.
14 Q. What was that about?
15 A. The doctor -- the dentist, rather, expressed some
16 concerns. Upon hearing of Dr Kelly's death on Friday
17 18th July, she was aware he was a patient and apparently
18 the practice has a process whereby patients are
19 contacted shortly before an appointment. She was aware
20 that he was due an appointment shortly and she did not
21 want to cause distress to Dr Kelly or his family, so she
22 went to the filing cabinet to find his notes of his
23 dental records and they were missing.
24 Q. So what did the police do?
25 A. We carried out a full examination of the surgery and, in

1 particular, one window which the dentist was concerned
2 may not have been secure. We found no trace of anything
3 untoward either in the surgery or on the window.
4 Q. Did you carry out any further investigations as a result
5 of this?
6 A. Yes, the dental records -- we had another call from the
7 dentist to say that the dental records had reappeared on
8 the Sunday in the place in the filing cabinet where they
9 should have been. We forensically examined those and
10 could find no evidence of extraneous fingerprints or
11 whatever on that file. However, upon hearing about
12 this, and again I stress because I am a police officer
13 and probably inherently suspicious, because dental
14 records are a means of identification it did prompt me
15 to take the extra precaution of having DNA checks
16 carried out to confirm that the body we had was the body
17 of Dr Kelly, notwithstanding the fact that that had been
18 identified by his family.
19 Q. Did you have those DNA checks carried out?
20 A. I did and they confirmed that it was the body of
21 Dr Kelly.


  1. This defies understanding. DNA testing (control samples from family members or e.g. a toothbrush from the deceased) in combintion with dental records is a technique commoly used when the body is too badly decomposed,severely beaten about the head or burnt to allow visual identification.

    Altenatively, dental records might be falsified so that,for instance, Dr Kelly's records matched those of another body which was purported to be his but wasn't. But this reasoning doesn't square with the DNA allegedly matching. Did the dentist make a statement? Had the records been amended?

  2. Felix,

    For the Hutton Inquiry perhaps a photocopy of the DNA on the toothbrush would be enough? :)

  3. "However, upon hearing about this, and again I stress because I am a police officer and probably inherently suspicious"

    Wasn't he a tad suspicious when people were seen close to where the body was later found, that the body was repeatedly moved, and that no finger prints were found on knife, bottle, glasses, watch or blister pack of pills?

    "We forensically examined those and could find no evidence of extraneous fingerprints or whatever on that file"

    Presumably all employees at the dental surgery had their fingerprints and DNA (whatever) taken to eliminate them from the investigation of who took the file. Or does it mean there were no fingerprints or whatever on the file?

    I've never really understood it but one of MI5's housebreaking calling cards is they often return material that has previously been stolen.

    It's good to know we are being protected by such diligent and skilful individuals.

  4. LL,

    Isn't it interesting that ACC Page thinks to mention the absence of extraneous fingerprints on the dental records folder but it seemingly slipped his mind to tell Lord Hutton about the absence of fingerprints on the knife found at Harrowdown Hill?

    You're right to ask about whether there were any fingerprints on the dental records folder and contents.

    ACC Page's wording leaves open the possibility that no fingerprints whatsoever were found on the dental records folder and/or on the dental records themselves.