Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Death of David Kelly - Both Dr. Kelly and the MoD knew that Susan Watts was a "tricky area"

On 14th July 2003 a meeting was held at which Martin Howard (Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence), Dr. David Kelly, Dr. Bryan Wells (David Kelly's immediate line manager at the Ministry of Defence) and Ms. Heather Smith were present.

The offical note of the meeting is here: Notes of a meeting with Dr Kelly 14/07/03.

In addition to the typed note there are handwritten notes from three individuals (all except Martin Howard):

Dr. Wells: Hand-written notes of meeting with Dr Kelly 14/07/03

Ms. Smith: Handwritten note taken by Heather Smith at meeting with Dr Kelly 14.7.03

Dr. Kelly: Exhibit GHW/3/3 –handwritten notes

Each of the handwritten notes has a section labelled "tricky areas". One of the "tricky areas" for David Kelly at the Foreign Affairs Committee on the following day (15th July 2003) was Susan Watts. She is mentioned in each of the handwritten notes.

Several thoughts occur to me:

  1. Both David Kelly and the Ministry of Defence were well aware on 14th July 2003 that David Kelly's contacts with Susan Watts were a tricky area.

  2. When David Kelly appeared obtuse in his response to the questions about Susan Watts at the Foreign Affairs Committee he knew he was responding to a question about a "tricky area".

  3. In all likelihood, given that, David Kelly was deliberately misleading the Foreign Affairs Committee when he chose selectively to remember only his single meeting with Susan Watts.

  4. Interestingly, Bryan Wells's handwritten note indicates that Martin Howard introduced the notion of "tricky areas".

  5. The typed note of the meeting produced by Dr. Wells has expundged the notion of "tricky areas".

Hutton mentions the meeting notes here in paragraph 98 in Chapter 4 of the Hutton Report:

98. Dr Wells' typewritten record made on 22 July was based on a handwritten note which he had made at the meeting on 14 July and his handwritten note contained the words "tricky areas" which were not included in the typewritten record. A handwritten note made at the meeting by Dr Kelly also contained the words "tricky areas" as did a handwritten note made at the meeting by Ms Heather Smith. It appears that the "tricky areas" were the three areas set out in paragraph 3 of Dr Wells' typewritten record. The three handwritten notes of Dr Wells, Dr Kelly and Ms Smith respectively are set out in appendix 6.

Notice that Bryan Wells did not produce the typed meeting note until 22nd July 2003, at a time when many in Whitehall might have been energetically covering their backs.

Hutton does notice that the typed note has expunged the inconvenient words "tricky areas".

Hutton fails to notice that it was Martin Howard who introduced the notion of "tricky areas" (see Bryan Wells' handwritten note). If, as the typed note indicates, the purpose of the meeting was to brief Dr. Kelly on the procedures to expect it is highly surprising that the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence introduces the concept of "tricky areas" to this purely informative briefing.

Interestingly Hutton opines that there were "three" tricky areas despite David Kelly's hand-written note clearly indicating that there were six!

The name Gavin Hewitt is written large at the top of Dr. Wells' handwritten note and is entirely absent from the typed note.


  1. Andrew,
    A very tricky area is also alluded to in the hand-written notes (I think one note reads "pass" on it) is CV / Job description, which doesn't make it into the final typed up minute.
    I wonder whether the word Rockingham cropped up at Mr Hatfield's little coaching session but wasn't minuted? Or was Dr Kelly's unscripted mention something of a bombshell?

  2. I think it may have been Dr kelly's way of saying "it's time for you bastards to back off" Possibly an unwise move!

  3. LL,

    You may be correct.

    There is certainly an appearance of David Kelly and his managers working together on possible responses to the Foreign Affairs Committee.

  4. Mr Gompertz did seize on the Tricky Areas and presses Bryan Wells on the subject: (para 133 et seq
    "Why does it [the expression tricky areas] not appear in the typed up version of your notes?"
    A. Because I expressed it as being at the margins of what was permissible within the bounds of the Defence Secretary's letter. I did not feel it necessary to use the verbatim words.

  5. Correct Hutton reference here relating to tricky areas.