Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Death of David Kelly - A timeline of events in August and September 2010

A lot was happening in the media relating to the death of Dr. Kelly in August and September 2010.

In this post I've tried to create a timeline to help convey the sequence of events.

  1. 9th August 2010 - Article in the Mail on Sunday indicating that there wasn't much blood around at Harrowdown Hill in the morning of 18th July 2010. See 'There wasn't much blood about': Detective who found weapons expert David Kelly's body raises questions over his death.

  2. 13th August 2010 - The BBC reports on a letter in the Times from a group of doctors claiming that the official cause of death was "extremely unlikely". See New call for Dr David Kelly inquest.

  3. 13th August 2010 - The Telegraph reports the call from the doctors for an inquest. See Death of Dr David Kelly 'should be re-explored' doctors say.

  4. 13th August 2010 - The Guardian, too, has an article about the call from the doctors for an inquest. See Experts call for David Kelly inquest.

  5. 14th August 2010 - Article in the Daily Mail indicating that David Kelly may have been on a hit list. See Dr David Kelly was on a hitlist, says UN weapons expert as calls grow for full inquest.

  6. 15th August 2010 - Michael Howard, the former leader of the Conservative Party, urges that an inquest be held. See Michael Howard urges Dr David Kelly inquest.

  7. 16th August 2010 - The forensic pathologist Dr. Andrew Davison says the case should be left to the experts, by which he means the forensic pathologists. See Dr David Kelly's death is 'not a game of Cluedo', says pathologist.

  8. 16th August 2010 - The Daily Mail publishes the results of a survey showing that only one person in five believes that David Kelly killed himself. See Dr Kelly: Just one in five believes it was suicide as official cause of death is branded 'impossible'.

  9. 19th August 2010 - An article in the Guardian indicates that Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, may intervene in relation to seeking an inquest for David Kelly. See Attorney general may intervene over David Kelly inquest.

  10. 21st August 2010 - Paul Vallely in the Independent writes about suspicious that we haven't been told the truth about the death of David Kelly. See The Kelly Affair: Anatomy of a conspiracy theory.

  11. 22nd August 2010 - Articles in the Sunday Times including claims from Dr. Nicholas Hunt that the death of David Kelly was a "textbook suicide". The articles are behind a pay wall so I don't provide a link here. However, the BBC quotes the "textbook case" claim here: Pathologist says David Kelly's death 'textbook suicide'.

  12. 22nd August 2010 - The Guardian, too, picks up Nicholas Hunt's claim of a textbook suicide. See David Kelly's death was textbook suicide, pathologist says.

  13. 22nd August 2010 - Tom Mangold has an article in the Independent on Sunday claiming that David Kelly committed suicide. See Tom Mangold: Shame made David Kelly kill himself.

  14. 25th August - Martin Robbins the "lay scientist" tells those who question the suicide verdict for David Kelly to put up or shut up. See David Kelly conspiracy theorists should put up or shut up.

  15. 27th August 2010 - Dr. Philip Timms, consultant psychiatrist writes to the Independent stating that Dr. Kelly's death is not a textbook suicide. See This is far from 'a textbook case'.

  16. 2nd September 2010 - The Guardian reports that the Attorney General's Office had asked the Ministry of Justice for the postmortem report for Dr. Kelly See Full inquest into death of David Kelly comes closer.

  17. 3rd September 2010 - Lord Hutton writes to the Attorney General with comments about the death of Dr. Kelly. See Lord Hutton to AGO 3 September 2010.

  18. 4th September - The Guardian reports that a group of doctors are shortly to send formal legal papers to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, seeking that an inquest be held into the death of David Kelly. See Doctors call for David Kelly inquest.

  19. 5th September 2010 - The Daily Mail reports sloppy work by Dr. Nicholas Hunt resulting in incorrect information appearing in military death postmortem reports. See Pathologist's shocking errors spark new calls for full inquest into death of Iraq weapons inspector Dr David Kelly.

  20. 12th September 2010 - Article in the Mail on Sunday indicating that David Kelly's body had been moved. See Dr David Kelly's body 'had obviously been moved': Paramedic at death scene reveals concerns over Hutton Inquiry.

I hadn't seen the letter in the Independent of 27th August 2010 from Dr. Philip Timms before.

I reproduce it here for the record.

This is far from 'a textbook case'

The pathologist who examined Dr David Kelly has been widely reported as saying that his death was a "textbook" case of suicide. This depends very much on the textbook.

In a textbook of physical pathology, Dr Kelly's injuries might well provide an exemplar of a suicide by wrist-cutting. But from a psychiatric epidemiological perspective, a different picture presents itself.

Wrist-cutting is such an unusual form of suicide that it is not recorded separately in national statistics, but is lumped together with other uncommon suicide methods involving self-stabbing.

In men of Dr Kelly's age in the UK who kill themselves, less than 3 per cent do so by using any sort of sharp implement. A much smaller number will therefore have actually cut their wrists. So, the physical pathological findings might be typical, but typical of a rare event.

Of course, Dr Kelly's death may still indeed have been a suicide. But, compared with most suicides, his case is neither representative nor characteristic. It is so unusual that it surely justifies a full and open public inquiry.

Dr Philip Timms FRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust


  1. Andrew, don't forget that Professor Christian Seelos, one of only two non-family beneficiaries in Dr Kelly's will, rushed into print in the Daily Telegraph on August 29: David Kelly inquest calls 'outrageous', says friend

  2. Andrew Davison told Channel 4 News, 19 August: "The scrutiny of the medical evidence by Lord Hutton, although somewhat led by him rather than letting the pathologist tell the story without interruption, seems to have been what would have occurred in a routine inquest.

    "Sometimes the pathology evidence at an inquest is concluded in a matter of minutes.

    "I hold no particular view on whether there should have been an inquest in the first place, but a 24 day inquiry by a senior judge beats most inquests for time and (presumably) thoroughness."

    There are also two videos from Channel 4 on this page, last updated 22 August.
    The exchange with Tom Mangold is supplied in transcript until about 2.39, after which Mangold suggests Hutton made a mistake going to the funeral..."he was very solicitous with Janice, I was there too and I felt it very keenly as well. That I think led him to let Janice give evidence from behind curtains, so to speak, and my guess is for purely benign reasons he decided not to put her through the added agony of an inquest,now remember in those days.... [Added? The inquiry replaced the inquest]

    There is a second C4 video on the page, featuring Michael Powers with a shot of the radio mast at 1.55 and the police horses outside Westfield. The post-mortem is described as lasting "8 hours". "The chorus for a full inquest has now been joined by Dr Hunt.." are the closing words.

  3. Also , Miles Goslett interviewed Professor Colin Pritchard for the Daily Mail, 18 August:
    "The crucial thing for me is that if you read the Hutton Inquiry there is not a sliver of evidence to suggest he intended to kill himself". Prof Pritchard's intervention adds to the clamour for a full inquest into the death of the government weapons inspector, who was found dead in an Oxfordshire copse in 2003.