Monday, 2 May 2011

The Death of David Kelly - His inability to sharpen the knife

This post consists largely of a communication sent to the Attorney General earlier today, drawing to his attention "new evidence" indicating that David Kelly was incapable of sharpening the knife found at Harrowdown Hill.

The title of the email to the Attorney General was:
David Kelly - The inability of Dr. Kelly to sharpen the knife

The text of the email was:

Mr McGinty,

This email is intended for the attention of the Attorney General in connection with a possible application to the High Court to seek an Order that an inquest be held into the death of Dr. David Kelly.

In this communication I seek to draw to the attention of the Attorney General what I consider to be "new evidence" in the meaning of Section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988.

In addition, I consider the inquiry made into this matter by Lord Hutton and James Dingemans QC to be insufficient (actually it was non-existent) thereby constituting "insufficiency of inquiry" in the meaning of Section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988.

The Attorney General is already aware of serious concerns regarding the possibility that the knife found at Harrowdown Hill was incapable of being used in the applicable circumstances to inflict the wounds described by Dr. Nicholas Hunt in his postmortem report of 25th July 2003.

I set out illustrative technical concerns on that matter in my communication to the Attorney General of 12th April 2011 entitled "David Kelly - Important Technical Questions about the knife, wounds etc".

The text of that communication is available online at .

One of those concerns was whether, in principle, it was possible or not to sharpen a knife with a curved blade to the extent that it was capable, in the applicable circumstances, of incising human skin and tissue to cause the described wounds.

However, at that time I was unaware of a statement by Mai Pederson, a close friend of David Kelly's, that Dr. Kelly could not sharpen the knife he used to carry because of the disability of his right arm caused by an old fracture of the right elbow.

Ms. Pederson's statement about David Kelly's inability to sharpen the knife is as follows:

He always wore a Barbour jacket and he kept a knife in his pocket. It had a folding blade and I remember him telling me he couldn’t sharpen it because his right hand didn’t have the strength to hold a sharpener.

Ms. Pederson is quoted as making the above statement here:

Clearly, this further calls into question the sharpness of the knife found at Harrowdown Hill.

According to the Hutton Inquiry narrative the knife found at Harrrowdown Hill was of the order of 40 or 50 years old.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the likelihood of such a knife having a scalpel-sharp blade without sharpening for at least the previous several years is slim to non-existent. The evidence on the Hutton Inquiry web site implies that the elbow injury may have happened early in 1992.

Accordingly, this "new evidence" casts further doubt on the supposed use of the knife found at Harrowdown Hill since the sharpness of the knife is seriously in question.

At the Hutton Inquiry there was a total failure both by Lord Hutton and by counsel to the Inquiry to inquire into this fundamental question of whether or not the knife had a blade of sufficient sharpness to inflict the observed wounds.

The "insufficiency of inquiry" is both overt and deplorable.

The failure of Lord Hutton and James Dingemans QC adequately to inquire into this matter suggests that the lack of sharpness did not apply only to the knife.

I would be grateful if you would confirm receipt of this email and confirm that the information contained in it will be considered by the Attorney General.

Thank you.

(Dr) Andrew Watt


  1. I never understood why a razor blade wasn't left at the scene,but then Dr Kelly had a beard, creating further problems for the suiciding scene director. If he had been contemplating suicide of course he could have bought some in advance and that would have been nicely explained away by Prof Hawton at the Inquiry....or perhaps the scene director ought to have sourced some at a 24 hour service station??

  2. Felix,

    I've discussed the wounds and the possible bladed weapons that might have produced them with someone with more technical knowledge than I have.

    The view expressed to me was that a razor blade wouldn't be a particularly good fit for the observed wounds. Something with a sharp point would be necessary.

    A Stanley knife or similar implement is a very plausible fit for the wounds described in the postmortem report.

    The knife found at Harrowdown Hill is unlikely to have had a sufficiently sharp point to produce the observed wounds.

    However, ultimately a properly conducted inquest looking at serious forensic evidence should be able to explore such questions to a depth that Hutton didn't even attempt.

  3. Andrew,

    I was merely suggesting that if indeed Dr Kelly had intended to commit suicide (which I doubt) then he would have perhaps chosen to buy razor blades if the intention was to cut a wrist rather than relying on the uncertainty of a blunt knife. Obviously the wounds are not consistent with a razor blade.

    I was merely casting doubt on the intention to commit suicide.

  4. Felix,

    I'd been giving (with some technical help) thought to the wound and what characteristics the "real knife" had to have had to create the wounds described.

    If the hypothetical "scene director" or "scene directors" were aware that David Kelly had been cleared by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 15th July 2003 and was functioning normally on the morning of 17th July 2003 then it would be necessary to make it look "spontaneous" e.g. with a knife from his home and seemingly pills from his home.

    At least that might have seemed at the time to be a convincing (enough) scene to set.

  5. Of course the wounds would be consistent with being made by a knife similar to the one which....
    but this again requires some planning (by the scene directors). I like Lancashire Lad's theory that Mrs Kelly was ejected onto the lawn while the house was combed for a suitable knife and pills. (had the co-proxamol cache been researched beforehand or was it a fortuitous find one wonders?)

    However it all looks ridiculous from a man who was so bright his "brain could boil water" (as Tom Mangold told the Daily Mirror late on the 18th July 2003)

  6. Felix,

    I don't often disagree emphatically with comments made here but there is no "of course" about the (supposed) compatibility of the knife found at the scene.

    The knife can be assumed to be compatible with the wounds ... just so long as nobody seriously asks the question of whether or not it is compatible with the described wounds.

    I've already expressed some technical concerns on such matters in a communication to the Attorney General on 12th April 2011: The Death of Dr. David Kelly - Important technical questions about the knife, wound etc.

    At no time at the Hutton Inquiry was the question of whether or not the knife found at Harrowdown Hill was or was not capable of making the described wounds examined.

    That question ought to have been asked at the Hutton Inquiry of suitably qualified forensic expert.