Friday, 4 March 2011

The Death of David Kelly - A timeline of information management

In this post I make an attempt to produce a timeline of what I'll term "information management" around the time that David Kelly disappeared and the ensuing days.

At 02.00 (or thereabouts) on 18th July 2003 why was a 110' high communications mast needed when, according to the Hutton Inquiry narrative, Thames Valley Police were searching only the local area round the Kelly home?

Who was the Puppetmaster on the morning of 18th July 2003 who was behind Janice Kelly being told that David Kelly had committed suicide when, according to the Hutton Inquiry narrative, the body hadn't been examined by a pathologist and hadn't been identified.

Was the radio mast needed to communicate to the Puppetmaster?

Where was the Puppetmaster located? Presumably outside the UK.

Was the Puppetmaster behind the suicide "spin" on the morning of 18th July 2003 at a time when the pathologist hadn't even seen the body?

Who was / is the Puppetmaster?

  • 15th July 2003 - David Kelly is questioned by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. They conclude he is not the main source for Andrew Gilligan's reports and write the same evening to Jack Straw to convey that conclusion.

  • 18th July 2003 - Tom Baldwin, Assistant Editor of the Times, goes public with the assertion that he believes Alastair Campbell rather than Andrew Gilligan. See The BBC stands for Blundering Bombastic Cynicism.

  • 18th July 2003 01.00 - Tony Blair in Washington boards his flight to Tokyo. (Source: How Blair's 7,000-mile journey to Japan turned into a flight of despair)

  • 18th July 2003 01.00 (approx) - Alastair Campbell, Jonathan Powell and Sally Morgan don't travel with Tony Blair to Tokyo. (Source: How Blair's 7,000-mile journey to Japan turned into a flight of despair) Campbell and Powell (and probably Morgan) had been "allowed to go home" (Source: How Blair hit turbulence and landed in a storm)

  • 18th July 2003 02.00 (approx) - A 110' high radio mast is erected in the garden of the home of Dr. David Kelly in Southmoor Oxfordshire. Given that Thames Valley Police are at that time only searching in close proximity to the Kelly home what is the purpose of the mast? What information is being communicated? To whom? From whom?

  • 18th July 2003 10.00 (approx) - Janice Kelly is informed that David Kelly's body has been found and that he has committed suicide. How was that possible? The ambulancemen had, in all likelihood, only just reached the body at 10.00. And the pathologist doesn't see the body for another 2 hours or so. Who was the Puppetmaster who authorised / concocted the story that David Kelly had committed suicide at a time when it couldn't be known how he had died (assuming that the Hutton Inquiry "narrative" is full and accurate)?

  • 18th July 2003 10.30 (approx) - Sarah Pape receives a telephone message that David Kelly's body has been found and that he appears to have committed suicide. See page 93 of her oral testimony at the Hutton Inquiry.

  • 18th July 2003 15.00 (approx) - Tony Blair arrives in Tokyo having, supposedly, spent several hours on a satellite telephone. Who was he talking to? About what? Lord Falconer and Sir Kevin Tebbit, it seems. Anyone else? We're not told. The Prime Minister's spokesman refused to tell journalists if Blair had spoken to Alastair Campbell or not. (Source: How Blair's 7,000-mile journey to Japan turned into a flight of despair)

  • 18th July 2003 (time unknown) - Janice Kelly gives a telephone interview, seemingly, to the New York Times. "Mrs. Kelly said the police had confirmed that the body was her husband's, and that the cause of death was suicide." (Source: British Arms Expert at Center of Dispute on Iraq Data Is Found Dead, His Wife Says)

  • 19th July 2003 - A "police source" apparently ruled out an overdose. See David Kelly, victim of another war?.

  • 21st July 2003 - Alastair Campbell is said to be "in a disturbed and dangerous psychological state" and "out of control". See Timeline: the Gilligan affair

  • 14th December 2010 - Tom Baldwin, former Times journalist, is named as head of communications for Ed Miliband. See, for example, Labour's Ed Miliband unveils chief spokesmen.


  1. Brian Spencer is also looking at similar questions to those I raised in this post.

    See Friday morning - and Mrs Kelly talks of her husband's suicide .

  2. Why did the mast have to be so close to The Kelly house? Did Blair/Campbell/George Bush/whoever want to speak to Sergeant Simon Morris, night shift, Thames Valley Police after he had noted that a medium risk person had just gone missing? (and had immediately off his own bat requisitioned a mobile 110 ft communications mast plus scrambled a helicopter : that proactivity,in light of what we subsequently learn, merits a QPM imho) Or were some very big hitters clomping around the Kelly house and grounds in the very late evening, which the family could not possibly have failed to notice?

  3. Felix,

    It's a good question.

    Just why was the mast placed so close to the Kelly house?

  4. "Blair's 7,000 mile journey" makes fascinating reading, not least for the initial report that Mr Blair was told that Dr Kelly's body had been found 5 miles from his home.

    RAF Abingdon is exactly 5 miles from Dr Kelly's home.

  5. There is a fascinating sentence in the report by Judy Miller in the NYT (after her phone call with Janice Kelly the same day the body was found....
    "Mrs. Kelly said the police had confirmed that the body was her husband's, and that the cause of death was suicide. She declined to say what led the police to that conclusion, saying they had asked her not to discuss details of his death."

    Confirmed using dental records? And suicide had already been decided.

  6. Andrew

    Mrs Pape puts Dr Kelly in Downing Street before the FAC Meeting on 15 July. Interestingly Ariel Sharon was in town on 13/14/15 July getting the red carpet treatment from Mr Blair,who in return said he would stiffen his resolve against Iran's weapons although would not be bullied over relations with Palestine..

  7. Tell me if I am wrong to be puzzled.
    Dr Kelly is not yet cold (24 degrees Centigrade) at 7.15pm London time, but I am guessing it isWarren Hoge,The New York Times' London Bureau Chief(and who covered the Hutton Inquiry), cold calling by phone for an interview with Mrs Kelly,which he obviously gets, then sending copy to Judy Miller to file the story in the US.
    Yet the family'sofficial statement was only issued on Saturday afternoon 19th July, and ended with the by now familiar sentence:
    We appeal now to everyone to afford us the privacy to grieve in peace and to come to terms with our loss

  8. Further questions - was Hoge/Miller's the only call received by Mrs Kelly at home from the press on the 18th July? Was this the only one which was answered with comment? Did Mrs Kelly know Warren Hoge or Judy Miller?

  9. Andrew

    The Baldwin article of 18 July carries a very early - the first? - use of the term Blair Baiting.
    (Campaign, viz: BBC)

    Here are the interesting bits
    " I will walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End if he (Gilligan) met another WMD expert at “a Central London hotel” who helped to draft a background section of the dossier"

    Well,it didn't have to be another WMD expert/dossier drafter.

    " If Kelly was his (Gilligan's) source, he was not credible, because he is not, as the BBC claimed, a senior member of the intelligence services.

    I am not so sure about this second assertion either.

  10. The PMOS morning press briefing for 21 July 2003 is no longer available and only one blog has preserved it.

    There were two PMOSs at the time - Tom Kelly and Godric Smith who was on the Far East jaunt.

    "the PMOS said that it was up to Lord Hutton to decide how to conduct his inquiry. We had given him a job to do. People should let him get on and do it."

    "had"??? Not have????

    And before the Hutton Report was published, we read,
    "the PMOS said that it was up to Lord Hutton to choose how to present his Report publicly.."

  11. Fox News reported that
    "Blair arrived at Andrews Air Force Base Thursday for a roughly seven-hour visit that would be filled with a whirlwind round of talks. His visit started with a closed meeting with congressional leaders, which was followed by his address to Congress."
    Patriot Resource puts Blair at 17.29 hrs Eastern Time (10.30pm London) on 17 July 2003 with Bush giving a Press Conference in the Cross Hall of the White House.
    ITN reported, with video time coded 10.09 - 10.16 hrs 17 July 2003, that
    The two leaders met later in the day at the White House,
    where Blair was expected to press Bush over U.S. plans to try
    British terror suspects being held at the U.S. naval base at
    Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in military courts.

    Bush personally escorted Blair via helicopter from the
    White House lawn to his airplane at Andrews Air Force Base.

  12. photo of Blair leaving the white house southlawn 17 july 2003 here It is still light. It is probably between 8 and 9 pm.

  13. Earler that day, Julian Borger had reported for the Guardian about The spies who pushed for war, the shadow rightwing intelligence network set up in Washington to second-guess the CIA and deliver a justification for toppling Saddam Hussein by force

  14. Socialist Appeal,20 July 2003, reports that
    "But just when everything in the garden seemed rosy for Tony Blair, everything has started to unravel. At around 7am London time, the Prime Minister was given the news that David Kelly was missing
    The Guardian, the day before, writes The prime minister's Boeing 777 was high over the Pacific en route to Tokyo from his triumphant address to a joint session of Congress in Washington when news emerged at breakfast time of Dr Kelly's disappearance from his Oxfordshire home. The timing evoked Greek tragedy: triumph followed by disaster.

    Within hours a body, still officially unidentified, was found shortly before Mr Blair's flight landed in the Japanese capital on what was meant to be routine trade and political business.

    Alastair Campbell, the No 10 communications director, who is the main target of opposition and media attacks, had earlier flown home from the US and was busy last night organising the government's defence.
    (The vendetta's victim, Michael White, Richard Norton-Taylor et al)

    1. Another mystery death in Southmoor; too much of a coincidence?|uk|dl1|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D91911