Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Death of David Kelly - The state of the Kelly marriage

The principle I've tried to follow throughout my consideration of the death of David Kelly is that the Truth is paramount.

To find the truth one has to examine the evidence - all the evidence! Even the evidence that it might be more congenial to ignore.

I'm conscious that in this post I'll explore issues which will make at least some readers uncomfortable - the state of the Kelly marriage. Yet to ignore the question is to risk missing important elements of the Truth.

If some of the media reports are true, then Janice Kelly's evidence has to be viewed in a different light, a more unfavourable light, than was the case when she gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry on 1st September 2003.

Similarly, the evidence of Professor Keith Hawton is further called into question since much of his evidence is based on a remarkably uncritical regurgitation of what Janice Kelly told him.

The Hutton Inquiry, to the surprise of few, is almost entirely silent on the state of the Kelly marriage.

Almost entirely silent but not quite.

As almost the final question in Janice Kelly's evidence we read this in the transcript of her evidence on the morning of Monday 1st September 2003 (pages 54 and 55):

21 Q. I have just been asked to ask one thing. There was
22 a report in one of the newspapers yesterday that there
23 had been some rows; is there anything you would like to
24 say in relation to that?
25 A. Absolutely not. We did not row. If we had

1 a disagreement, we agreed to disagree. There was
2 absolutely no row whatsoever. I was in no physical
3 state anyway and neither was David. There was
4 absolutely no row.

According to Janice Kelly there were no rows.

But Professor Alastair Hay paints a different picture. He is quoted in an article in the Telegraph of 31st August 2003, Kelly and wife 'rowed in hours before his death':

Professor Alastair Hay, a close friend of Dr Kelly, said last week: "It is going to be very difficult for Mrs Kelly when she gives evidence because of all the things that have gone on between them.

"They [the Hutton Inquiry lawyers] will be asking what was said between them. You can't undo any of those things. We are all human and things do get said because of the pressure you are under."

Interestingly, the Hutton Inquiry lawyers gracefully sidestepped any exploration of such issues, with the exception of the single question quoted earlier.

The same article claims that David and Janice Kelly had rowed about his appearing before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee:

Another friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said Dr Kelly had told friends that he had rowed with his wife over his submission to the Commons foreign affairs select committee.

On 28th January 2004 (the day the Hutton Report was published), Terence Taylor a friend of David Kelly was quoted in this Evening Standard article, Determined widow prepares to fight back , as saying this:

"There is no question there were marital problems at home," says Terence Taylor, a close friend who stayed with the couple shortly before Dr Kelly's death.

"It is a deeply private subject but, from my point of view and from what I observed, there were problems within the marriage, very much so." Even when Dr Kelly was grappling with the Gilligan crisis last summer, his wife could only stand by and observe his distress.

And last year Tom Mangold wrote this in the Independent, Tom Mangold: Shame made David Kelly kill himself:

The exposure of that lie would have meant that his career would end in disgrace and he would retire a broken man in a marriage that had effectively run its course earlier.

Was Janice Kelly telling the truth? And the other commentators were mistaken or being dishonest?

If Janice Kelly is telling the truth there are two pieces of evidence that, to my mind at least, make no sense:

  1. Janice Kelly portrays herself as a supportive wife in her evidence to the Hutton Inquiry. If that was true, why did she stay behind in Cornwall when David Kelly returned to Oxford on Sunday 13th July 2003? If the relationship between David Kelly and Janice were good and she was as supportive as she portrayed herself to the Hutton Inquiry surely she would have wanted to be at his side ... supporting. And, if Janice Kelly's evidence were reliable, David Kelly would have wanted her at his side ... supporting. Not least since 15th July 2003, the day David Kelly gave evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, was their 36th wedding anniversary.

  2. Janice Kelly portrays David Kelly at lunchtime on 17th July 2003 as, supposedly, being unable to communicate coherently, yet as I've described in the post The Death of David Kelly - On 17th July 2003 a busy professional was efficiently clearing his backlog of work , with everyone but Janice David Kelly was behaving like a competent and diligent professional who had been through a tough time but was coping well with the backlog of tasks before an anticipated departure to Iraq in the following week.

The two preceding points seem to me to indicate a marriage that was in serious trouble. A husband and wife between whom there was such tension and alienation that they had reached the point where they could barely speak to each other.

Is there a credible alternative interpretation?

In my view there is a clear but uncomfortable choice: believe Janice Kelly or believe other sources of information on the question of the state of the Kelly marriage.

If Janice Kelly misled Hutton on the issue of the state of the Kelly marriage what else might she have been less than honest about?


  1. One or two more pointers to the fragility of their marriage:

    In her Hutton evidence (P30) Mrs Kelly talks of visiting the Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan ... "which I had visited several times before". Note the phrase "several times", indicative of a number of visits she had made but not in the company of her husband. The impression one gets is that they hadn't been away together for a long time.

    Then there is the fact that he had converted to the Baha'i faith whereas she hadn't. Of course there are thousands of couples wherein one spouse will go to a place of worship each week and the other doesn't. I only mention the Baha'i because it is yet another example of them NOT sharing something.

    I'm not suggesting that Dr Kelly had had, or was seeking to have, an affair but it's interesting to note just how many women such as Susan Watts and Olivia Bosch he seemed to engage with albeit talking it seems about technical matters. But was his chatting to these and other women partly needed because of the difficulty of conversing with Janice?

  2. I wonder what happened when the postman brought a box of chocolates to the door from Dr Braut (TVP/3/0038), which was a kind gesture after Dr Kelly had assisted the research student with some contacts.

  3. "We had a very interactive rapport and at one time he said he liked talking with me because I had an international security perspective..."

    " We had established a rapport"


    "My xxxxx number is problematic"

    I detect some electricity here.
    It's from someone else whose brain could boil an egg, Dr Olivia Bosch.

  4. BBC News interview with Julie Flint. 1 Sept 2003

    Dr Kelly was "obsessed with Iraq"
    A friend of David Kelly, whose death is at the centre of the Hutton inquiry, has painted a picture of the personal strains the weapons scientist was under before he died.
    Julie Flint said he was "enormously discreet" and would not have discussed his problems at home. She also described Dr Kelly as "obsessed with Iraq".

    Ms Flint is a journalist specialising in the Middle East and had known Dr Kelly for many years.

    On Sunday she released an unpublished article Dr Kelly had intended for inclusion in a report she was compiling on Iraq, in which Dr Kelly said the long-term threat posed by Iraq - though "modest" - could only have been averted by "regime change".

    On Monday, the personal impact of the Iraq furore on Dr Kelly is likely to be further revealed as the people who knew him best - his wife and daughter - give evidence to the inquiry via audiolink.

    David was enormously discreet, and this must have been very, very difficult for him

    Julie Flint

    In an interview with Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Flint described Dr Kelly as "lovely, a lovely man", but said he "didn't talk easily".

    "One of the things his wife has said to me was 'If he talked like you and I do, Julie, this might not have happened'".

    She said she was sure that if he had had anxieties, he wouldn't have discussed them at home.

    "David was enormously discreet, and this must have been very, very difficult for him," she said.

    "I don't believe he was enormously happy this year. He was a very precise man - he didn't like war."

    Ms Flint said the nature of Dr Kelly's job - and his "obsession" with Iraq - had put added pressure on him, and on his home life.

    "For the last 13 years, David had had a faithful mistress - his name was Saddam Hussein," she said.

    "He had been away from home probably more than he'd been there - not easy for a marriage if your husband has a job which so occupies his time and his thoughts."

    She said Dr Kelly - who was approaching retirement - and his wife "should have been looking forward to a happy retirement doing the things they love to do together in their home".

  5. I only just discovered this reference from The People BBC blast on Kelly marriage.

    "The Beeb's evidence to Lord Hutton's probe into Dr Kelly's death included an extract from a book, Plague Wars, by reporter Tom Mangold.

    It says of Dr Kelly: "He is married with three daughters, has been to Iraq 35 times, and knows where most of the biological bodies ought to be buried.

    "Despite real strains on his marriage, he has made this assignment his life-work."

    Government insiders said the BBC was wrong to bring up Dr Kelly's relationship with wife Janice, 58. But a BBC spokesman said: "It was to show him as an outstanding public servant.

    "Being away so much would have put a strain on any relationship."

    (The People Sunday 17 August 2003)