Monday, 18 April 2011

The Death of David Kelly - His attitude to suicide

Recently, I posted a brief item on the suicide of Wendy Hay, the wife of David Kelly's friend Professor Alistair Hay: The Death of David Kelly - The suicide of Wendy Hay.

It seems to me to be likely that David Kelly and Alastair Hay had spoken about suicide between Wendy Hay's suicide in September 2002 and David Kelly's death.

Surely the likelihood of a contemporary insight into David Kelly's attitude to suicide was apparent?

Why didn't Lord Hutton take evidence from Alistair Hay?

Lord Hutton also missed an important opportunity to establish David Kelly's attitude to suicide following the suicide of his (i.e. David Kelly's) mother.

One of David Kelly's character referees when he was first positively vetted in 1985 shared the unfortunate circumstance that his/her mother had comitted suicide. See the evidence of Professor Keith Hawton taken on the afternoon of Wednesday 24th September 2003:

2 Q. Turning first to the letter from the legal adviser to
3 the Ministry of Defence. What relevant information does
4 that disclose?
5 A. I will read what it says. It says:
6 "I enclose two extracts from Dr Kelly's vetting file
7 which were prepared based on a report prepared by the
8 investigating officer handling his initial positive
9 vetting clearance in 1985. The first records an
10 interview on 20th November 1985 with Dr Kelly in which
11 he referred to his mother's death."
12 The relevant passage, quoting from the letter,
13 reads:
14 "'Dr Kelly said his mother died by her own hand in
15 1964, never having remarried. For many years prior to
16 her death she suffered from depression and he has little
17 doubt that the verdict of the coroner at the inquest
18 into her death that the balance of her mind was
19 disturbed was correct.'"
20 Q. Was there any other information in the letter?
21 A. Yes, there is a -- as follows:
22 "The second extract --
23 LORD HUTTON: I think there should be no reference to
24 anyone's name, Professor Hawton, or to any particular
25 locality.

1 A. I understand. The second extract reports an interview
2 on 28th November with a friend of Dr Kelly who had known
3 him for many years, who he had nominated as one of his
4 character referees. I am quoting here. The relevant
5 passage seems to be as follows:
6 "The main incident in their lives that had brought
7 them ..."
8 Sorry:
9 "He thought that the main incident in their lives
10 that had brought them closer friendship was that their
11 mothers each took their own life within a short period
12 of each other. They were in many ways able to give each
13 other encouragement and help following these tragedies,
14 which helped them to develop a closer bond of friendship
15 between them."
16 Then another following extract:
17 "He recalls the death of his mother [here one
18 assumes he is referring to Dr Kelly, Dr Kelly's mother],
19 which occurred at a time during his student days at the
20 University of Leeds and was known to be engrossed in his
21 studies and whilst the tragedy distressed him, he
22 appeared to ride the period well and at no time when
23 [they] were together did he display any mental reaction
24 to this unfortunate matter. In fact, the referee said
25 'he can be considered a well balanced person'."

Notice that Lord Hutton successfully suppresses the identity of the character referee.

Why wasn't that individual who acted as a character referee asked to give evidence about David Kelly's attitude to suicide in the light of the suicide of their respective mothers?

Together, evidence from Alistair Hay and the anonymous character referee might have provided insight into David Kelly's attitude to suicide much more reliable than such evidence as was collected at the Hutton Inquiry.

Lord Hutton, so far as I can gather, didn't even attempt to take such crucial evidence.


  1. I formed the impression it was Roger Avery, who was also at Leeds and Warwick Universities at the same time as Dr Kelly. He also managed to speak to Dr Kelly during the missing period.10-14 July.

    "he did not seem unduly distressed"
    were the words of Prof Avery but twice Avery alluded to the highly unusual terseness of these two calls. Why did Dr Kelly not want to talk more? Why was it "inconvenient for him to talk " in Prof Avery's own words if Dr Kelly were on holiday????

  2. Andrew,
    A Fortean Times message board from Saturday 19 July 2003, timed 10.10hrs has the following quote:
    "According to Radio Oxford this morning, he suffered from depression for several years (this doesn't necessarily mean that he also had suicidal thoughts), but the police are treating his death as "unnatural"".

    Where did the information that Dr Kelly suffered from depression come from???
    If true, why wasn't this pushed more ? It would surely have been documented in his medical notes seen by Lord Hutton.

  3. Andrew, not related to suicide, but concerning Professor Alastair Hay, I found this article from The Independent, 20 April 2005 fascinating. Professor Hay was an expert witness in the ridiculous Ricin attack plan discovered on a house raid on 5 January 2003.

    Ricin: The plot that never was by Severin Carrell and Raymond Whitacker

    "But as we now know, there was no ricin in any case. Professor Alistair [sic] Hay, one of Britain’s foremost authorities on toxins, said [Kamel] Bourgass’s attempts to construct toxic weapons from his small supplies of ingredients and ramshackle “laboratory” [in Wood Green, London N22] were “incredibly amateurish and unlikely to succeed”.

    He was scathing about [Mohammed] Meguerba’s allegations that ricin would be smeared on door handles. Ricin, he said, had to be injected straight into a victim to be a reliable weapon. Swallowing ricin could kill, but was a thousand times less effective. Simply touching crudely made ricin was even less likely to kill.

    His expert report was so damning that the prosecution dropped Meguerba’s claims. Instead, they focused on three identical toothbrushes found in Bourgass’s flat and suggested he planned to smear ricin on the brushes, and put them back on a shop’s shelves – an attempt to kill someone at random. Again, Professor Hay told The Independent on Sunday this was a highly ineffective method. “The claims made before the trial about this major ricin plot were very, very questionable,” he said.

    More sinister, however, was the expert’s discovery when he looked through the analysis of the seized material by the Porton Down chemical weapons laboratories in Wiltshire. On 7 January 2003 – the same day that two cabinet ministers claimed ricin had been found in north London – Porton scientists had realised there was no ricin there at all. Their first results at the flat had been a “false positive”.

    What happened to that profoundly important discovery is still the subject of intense controversy. Porton officials were unable to tell Professor Hay when they told the police or Home Office. The Old Bailey heard claims that an overly cautious Porton Down official had delayed passing the information on. Defence lawyers, however, believe ministers knew at an early stage that the claimed ricin find was wrong.

    One imagines that Dr Kelly and Professor Hay would have discussed that case and perhaps the sub-plot beneath the official line....

    "7 January 2003 Chemical weapons experts at Porton Down discover in more accurate tests that the initial positive result for ricin was false: there was no ricin in the flat. Porton Down is unable to say when it alerted the police or ministers to the error"

    Yet nearly 4 months later,
    "General Richard Myers, US commander-in-chief, claims: “It is from this site that people were trained and poisons were developed which migrated to Europe. We think that’s probably where the ricin found in London came from.”

    A good performance by Prof Hay.