Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Death of David Kelly - Three policemen or five?

This post owes at least as much to the thinking of Brian Spencer, author of the blog Dr Kelly's Death - Suicide or Murder as to myself.

The unresolved question, "three policemen or five?", arises from the seemingly conflicting evidence given about the policemen present at Harrowdown Hill.

For example, Paul Chapman in his evidence given on the morning of Tuesday 2nd September 2003 (pages 27 and 28) says:

16 Q. Did the police attend?
17 A. Yes, they did.
18 Q. And did you help them when they had arrived?
19 A. Yes. As we were going down the path we met three police
20 officers coming the other way that were from CID. We
21 identified ourselves to them. They were not actually
22 aware that (a) the body had been found or we were out
23 searching this area. They I think had just come out on
24 their own initiative to look at the area. I informed
25 them we had found the body and they asked me to take

1 them back to indicate where it was.

Paul Chapman sees three police officers from CID, presumably in plain clothes (one of whom was Detective Constable Graham Coe).

From the evidence of PC Franklin we get a different perspective (see his evidence also given on the morning of Tuesday 2nd September 2003, page 32):

5 Q. After you get that information, where did you go?
6 A. PC Sawyer and I attended Harrowdown Hill and went to the
7 scene. We were unsure initially whereabouts we were
8 going, but we passed Paul from the South East Berks
9 Volunteers and he directed us to two uniformed police
10 officers and DC Coe.

In these two extracts from the testimony given to Hutton are three policemen being referred to or five?

Are both witnesses referring to the same two companions of DC Coe?

Or did Paul Chapman see DC Coe accompanied by two detectives and PC Franklin see, a short time later, DC Coe accompanied by two different policemen (who were in uniform)?

Needless to say the two possibilities were neither considered nor resolved at the Hutton Inquiry.


  1. Why might Paul Chapman have come to the conclusion that the policemen he met had come to Harrowdown Hill on their own initiative? DC Coe, who had suddenly, inexplicably, made off towards the river from Longworth to make a sort of search hadn't by that time given evidence.

  2. Felix,

    DC Coe, DC Shields and "Harry Lime" set off from Southmoor rather than from Longworth, as far as I'm aware. Ruth Absalom's home was in Southmoor (Faringdon Road).

    Maybe "on their own initiative" simply means that they weren't aware that a search was ongoing at Harrowdown Hill?

  3. The testimony of PC Sawyer supports that of PC Franklin regarding this detail.

    On P47 he says "We continued walking up the hill, where I saw DC Coe and two uniformed officers". A few lines further down we have this "The three officers -- DC Coe and the two uniformed officers -- stayed on the path which leads through the woods".

  4. Andrew,

    The search towards Harrowdown Hill started off from the junction where Mrs Absalom told DC Coe she had last seen Dr Kelly, viz. from Longworth. How DC Coe and the 2/3 reached Longworth from Southmoor is not known. Perhaps by helicopter.

  5. It would be interesting to have a timeline for Southmoor too......

  6. Felix,

    It would be very interesting to have a timeline for Southmoor.

    But a Southmoor timeline is much more difficult to construct.

    It's very dependent on Janice Kelly's evidence and we know that there is good reason to think at least some of her evidence (for 17th July 2003 and earlier) is unreliable.

    David Kelly heads east from the top of Harris's Lane along Appleton Road then vanishes.

  7. I've been thinking about this a little more.

    There must, I think, be at least four policemen.

    Remember that DC Coe refers to the supposedly solitary individual accompanying him as DC Shields.

    DC Shields would be in plain clothes.

    It is inconceivable that both PC Franklin and PC Sawyer would confuse a detective with a uniformed officer.

    The question therefore becomes, "Who were the uniformed officers seen by PC Franklin and PC Sawyer with DC Coe?".

    Where did those unidentified officers come from? In other words, from which direction did they come?

    What was their purpose in being there?

    When did they arrive at the scene?

    If, as it now seems, they were at the scene before PC Franklin and PC Sawyer why didn't they give evidence to the Hutton Inquiry?

    Why didn't ACC Page refer to their presence at the scene?