Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Death of David Kelly - The ridiculously inadequate examination of David Kelly's computers

In this post I'd like to begin to examine the inadequacy of the examination of David Kelly's computers carried out by Thames Valley Police.

The approach described by ACC Page is grossly inadequate.

Remember he claimed that the investigation was of a standard comparable to a murder inquiry. He either had an unusual sense of humour in claiming that or a brass neck.

Below this long extract from ACC Page's oral testimony given on the morning of 3rd September 2003 (see pages 33 to 36) I'll briefly discuss some of the things that ought to have been done that appear not to have been done.

12 Q. That can go off the screen. What other material was
13 recovered from his house, just in general terms?
14 A. A range of documents, but principally computer equipment
15 and associated hardware, CDs, that type of thing.
16 Q. What have you done to analyse the computer equipment?
17 A. Well, there is a vast amount of equipment.
18 Q. Can you tell us what equipment there was?
19 A. I can, my Lord. If I can -- I will very quickly go
20 through the technical details. We seized one NJN tower
21 PC with a 6 gigabyte disk, 3.4 gigabytes of which had
22 been used.
23 Q. So he used over half the capacity of the machine?
24 A. On that particular machine, yes.
25 Q. If I decided to print out the whole of those contents

1 that he used, what sort of mound of paper would I end up
2 with?
3 A. I am advised by our computer technical people that of
4 all the memory that we have seized from Dr Kelly's
5 various computers --
6 Q. So from all the computers together?
7 A. From all the computers, if we were to print it out it
8 would produce a pile of paper twice as high as Big Ben.
9 Q. You have obviously not printed out or have you printed
10 out that amount of paper?
11 A. No, my Lord, we have not. What we have done is every
12 disk in our possession we have interrogated using
13 a number of key words which we felt would highlight any
14 data that would be of interest to police inquiries.
15 Q. What is an example of a key word?
16 A. "Suicide", "despair".
17 Q. Have you put in, for example, "Iraq"?
18 A. Yes, we have put in "Iraq".
19 Q. Right. And other key words of that nature?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And have you extracted anything as a result of those key
22 word searches?
23 A. We have extracted a number of documents, e-mails and so
24 forth.
25 Q. And where was this process carried out?

1 A. It was carried out on premises in Thames Valley, our
2 technical premises which I will not disclose the
3 location of, if you do not mind.
4 Q. Who did the work?
5 A. A technical computer technician employed by Thames
6 Valley Police as a forensic computer specialist.
7 Q. You recovered quite a lot of material from that and you
8 have shared relevant material with the Inquiry, is that
9 right?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. You were telling us what computers you have recovered
12 from the scene. We had got to the stack, I think.
13 A. In addition to the NJN tower PC, we seized a Palm M505
14 PDA.
15 Q. What is that?
16 A. Personal Digital Assistant, one of the small hand-held
17 computers, 12 megabyte disk, and everything had been
18 used on that. We seized a Dell tower PC with a disk
19 size of 55.9 gigabytes, 16.7 gigabytes of which had been
20 used. We seized a Toshiba laptop with a disk size of
21 3.8 gigabytes, 1.6 gigabytes of which had been used. We
22 seized a Dell laptop with a disk size of 9.3 gigabytes,
23 7.9 gigabytes of which had been used, and we seized
24 a further Dell laptop with a disk size of 55.9
25 gigabytes, 6.1 gigabytes of which had been used. We

1 seized one card-style laptop which was faulty and
2 therefore we have been unable to access. We retrieved
3 one hard-drive of 406 megabytes which has not been used,
4 and we also, from the Ministry of Defence, seized
5 a tower PC with a disk size of 3 gigabytes, 2.4
6 gigabytes of which had been used.

Notice the large amount of information that conveys essentially nothing. It is simply regurgitating technical detail of the computers. It tells us nothing about what David Kelly used the computers for.

The purpose of examining the computers ought to be to understand what was in David Kelly's mind, not mechanically list the characteristics of his computers.

A "key word" search is something that a computer forensics expert might have done as a "quick and dirty" first look.

However, a serious examination of the computers would need detailed understanding of David Kelly's life and why he might have been murdered.

Only then can specific email correspondence, for example, be looked for. For example, it would be of enormous interest to know if David Kelly had email contact with Judith Miller in the period leading up to her New York Times article which debunked the "mobile weapons labs" nonsense.

Similarly, it would have been of interest to look for all email contacts with Andrew Gilligan. Was there, for example, email contact in the period leading up to the leak in February 2003 of the Top Secret Defeence Intelligence Staff document rubbishing the supposed link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?

There is a notable gap in David Kelly's diary for April 2003. What was he doing then? A diligent and competent Police investigation would have taken steps to fill in those gaps by examining the computer files (not least the emails) for April 2003.

Worryingly, diligence and competence are not accusations that can be fairly levelled at Thames Valley Police's investigation; of the computer evidence or more widely.

With respect to examination of the computers, ACC Page's evidence leads me to conclude that on this aspect of the case there was gross "insufficiency of inquiry".


  1. “ I would not say I launched a murder investigation but the investigation was of that standard.”
    Absolutely priceless!
    “I mean, again, in terms of the scene of Dr Kelly's death and the complete absence of anything that would suggest the involvement of a third party, I remain confident that he met his death at his own hand.”
    Yep if no one else had been there it must be suicide. If you ignore the people seen in the area before the body was discovered, if you ignore the body being moved, if you ignore the police lying about the position of the body, who attended the scene and the times they attended the scene, if you ignore the fact that no fingerprints or DNA were recovered from any of the objects found at the scene and if you ignore the fact that Dr Kelly could not have died from the injury he sustained or the level of coproxamol found in his system. Yep an investigation to the level of a murder investigation but not actually a murder investigation.
    (but not actually a murder investigation because it wasn’t murder and this was known before the investigation was begun. If it was not known before the investigation that there might be a possibility that it was murder then perhaps there might have been a murder investigation)

  2. Mick Page was probably just put up as a decoy, someone nearing retirement who probably had very little to do with the investigation,protecting those in the thick of the covert operation. I think Mrs Pape could have told us more if she had been questioned on the Thames Valley operation.

  3. Come to think of it, Mrs Kelly did tell us more about the Thames Valley operation than ACC Page.

  4. LL,

    See the email to the Attorney General reproduced in this post, The Death of Dr. David Kelly - Were third parties present or not?, for some of my perspective on how inadequate the Thames Valley Police investigation was into the presence or not of third parties at Harrowdown Hill.

  5. Andrew

    There is no doubt, in my mind, that 3rd parties were involved at the scene prior to the search team discovering the body and then again afterwards.

    A most disturbing aspect of this case is the available evidence supports that amongst the 3rd parties were police officers.

    Dominic Grieve needs to be aware that the public confidence in politicians and the police is likely to come to a head with devastating consequences unless he takes steps to purge the corruption in the system.

  6. Andrew, if we are to believe the entirely credible report that Dr Kelly had a 4 day grilling at a safe house (or wherever) then it seems extraordinary that his computers would not have been examined at that time,possibly even taken away by MoD police. That he had no acceess to his home or email accounts from 10 -16 July certainly sends me messages which are at variance with the official narrative.

  7. Felix,

    One of the oddities regarding the period from 9th July 2003 to 17th July 2003 is that David Kelly didn't take his laptop with him.

    I find that very odd.

    I guess it's possible that his mobile phone was his "lifeline" where anything important and urgent was carried out.

    But the "I did not have access to my home" story has to be a smokescreen.

    From the evening of the 13th July 2003 he was staying with Rachel Kelly in (or near?) Oxford. She supposedly fed the cats at Southmoor and knew that there wasn't a horde of journalists besieging the house.

    Why couldn't David Kelly have gone with her on one trip? Why couldn't Rachel Kelly have unplugged his laptop and taken it to her house for him to use?

  8. If Dr Kelly's trip to Cornwall isn't what Mrs Kelly's recollection suggests I think the most likely scenario is Dr Kelly underwent 2 unpleasant ordeals
    1) "a proper security style interview" to debrief him on exactly what he had said to who
    2)An R2I taster (Resistance to Interrogation)- In preparation for his appearance before the committees.

    Both processes would have been brutal and humiliating, but as Dr Kelly said at the FAC it was a process that he accepted.

    Mr Gompertz in his summing up described the process that Dr Kelly had accepted

    "Mr Campbell's diary requires further comment. The entry for 4th July is illuminating. Part of the entry reads: "GH said his initial instinct was to throw the book at him but in fact there was a case for trying to get some kind of plea bargain." The bargain suggested by the family is that there would be no formal disciplinary proceedings and therefore no risk of loss of employment, pension rights or security status provided Dr Kelly gave evidence to the Select Committees in accordance with the directions or steers with which he would be provided."