In Mr. Green's report, Roy Green forensic statement 27 September 2003, which was recently made public by the Attorney General's Office mention was made of the body at Harrowdown Hill lying in nettles and brambles.
In my preceding post, The Death of David Kelly - Were "third parties" present?, the question of evidence regarding the presence or otherwise of so-called third parties was discussed.
I've carried out a small experiment to explore how "obvious" any previous stepping on nettles and brambles in a woodland setting might be.
The short answer is that it is possible to walk across nettles and brambles and leave essentially no trace at all.
Why is that?
With respect to brambles the stems are often sloping at an angle. If you stand on such a stem then it lowers to ground level while it is being stood on. However, almost instantly it springs back to a position similar to that in which it was before it was stepped on.
Yes, the stem may be 10cm above the ground immediately after it had been stood on when it had been, say, 15cm above the ground before it was stood on. But within a couple of seconds it is generally impossible in my view to detect that a bramble stem or stems has been stepped on.
In the woodland setting that I experimented with, nettle stems were also frequently at an angle rather than standing vertically. I assume that this is because the nettles were etiolated (being shaded by nearby or overhanging trees).
The behaviour of nettles is similar to brambles. Step on a sloping stem and it springs back almost instantly - with the exception that if you stand on the bottom, say, 5cm of the stem it may snap and lie horizontal to the ground.
In my experiment it is much tougher to detect that brambles and nettles had been stood on, even seconds before, than Dr. Hunt and the Attorney General appear to assume.
I conclude that statements to the effect that was on "obvious trampling" are essentially valueless.