PURELY ENGLISH SUICIDE
By Vyacheslav Belash
Translated from Russian
Dr. David Kelly
The case of chemical weapons expert David Kelly whose mysterious death in 2003 resulted in a change in the BBC management team and led to the resignation of a senior adviser to Tony Blair and almost cost the prime minister his position, is once again debated. Few people were willing to buy in the idea of the official version of Kelly’s suicide; however, there was no evidence to disprove it. Now, there is evidence and more than that.
In February 2003, Dr. David Kelly, a leading SME on chemical and bacteriological weapons at Britain’s MOD, told his friend, the British diplomat Sir David Braucher, “What happens should we invade Iraq? They will find me dead in a forest, somewhere.” In March 2003, British troops entered Iraq. In July 2003, Dr. Kelly was found dead in the Harrowdown Hill woods, five miles from his home. The coroner and then a specially created commission of inquiry chaired by Lord Hutton concluded that suicide was the cause of his death.
In Britain, many people were less than satisfied with the official version of the death since it sounded too much convenient whereas for Prime Minister Tony Blair Dr. Kelly’s death was too good, personally. Similar coincidences may happen, but it is rather difficult to believe them. The suicide version was not believed. True, the distrust was muted. There was no proof; however, raising hue and cry with regard to the government’s conspiracy in Britain is not welcomed: nobody is wanting to be likened to those who are claiming that the British secret service killed Princess Diana, that Aliens built the Stonehenge, and still continue to rule Britain and the whole world.
This situation continued until last week, when Norman Baker, a member of the British House of Commons for the ancient city of Lewes, submitted the findings of his private investigation. It seems he has been able to show more evidence that Dr. Kelly’s death can be called anything but suicide.
The case of the knife and the pills
Where you want to be believed, there you have to do everything to make the version you stand for, look at least approximately plausible. According to Norman Baker, this is what the killers of Dr. Kelly failed to do.
According to the official version of events, on July 18, 2003, Dr. Kelly left his house with several dozen pills of a strong painkiller; he also had in his pocket his favorite knife, which had been given to him as a gift when he was young. Finding a quiet corner in the woods of Harrowdown Hill, Dr. Kelly took the pills, then cut a vein in his left arm and bled himself to death within a few hours. Sometime later, a random passerby discovered his body and reported the incident to the police. Incidentally, rescue and search for him were already underway since his family felt concerned about Dr. Kelly’s long absence and alerted the police.
The version of a pre-planned suicide looked flawless. But only until the inquisitive parliamentarian decided to get to know the story in detail, not in general terms.
To begin with, Dr. Kelly was a committed follower of the Baha’i faith, which forbids suicide. Moreover, the documents found on his computer showed that the government expert felt deeply concerned about what had happened to him, but he did not think about committing suicide. Moreover, until the very last moment, he was busy preparing for his daughter’s wedding.
However, all arguments that Dr. Kelly was incapable of committing suicide for psychological reasons can be set aside since he would have been physically unable to commit suicide as well.
“I asked experts as to how many people in Britain died in 2003 from a wound similar to the one found on Dr. Kelly’s body, and got the startling answer, “Only one, and it was Dr. Kelly’s,” said Norman Baker. According to several prominent pathologists, the cut on the wrist that the investigation claimed David Kelley had made to himself could not have resulted in the kind of blood loss that would have been incompatible with life. Nor could the pills that the investigation suggested that Dr. Kelly had taken to make sure he would die. “According to the authorities, David Kelly took 29 pills with him. However, the blood test conducted by the official investigation showed that he only took half a pill,” said Baker. He said that the investigation, however, didn’t look into these apparent discrepancies.
The case of the Shrewd Policeman and the quick-witted Coroner
Tony Blair did not have to worry too much…David Kelly was killed.
According to Norman Baker, even his status as an MP did not help him in obtaining the Kelly case records filed by the police. But the material that further aroused the MP’s suspicions, he discovered in the public domain featuring the investigation clues posted on the official Web site. According to the documents posted, the Mason File police inquiry operation or a search for Dr. David Kelly initiated by his family and followed up by a police inquiry into his tragic death began at 2:30 p.m. on July 18, 2003. That is, nine hours before Janice Kelly, concerned over her husband’s long absence, called the police and claimed him missing. Moreover, at 2:30 p.m., David Kelly was still sitting at home in his study, answering emails. He didn’t go out for the walk that ended in his death until the early minutes past 3 p.m. “I have been unable to get any satisfactory explanation for such a startling phenomenon of police clairvoyance,” said Baker.
The further actions were taken by the police also raised a host of questions. Rather than immediately launching a search & rescue operation, they mounted a huge antenna in the Kelly family garden (its purpose is still a mystery), and then, after removing Janice Kelly out into the street, conducted a thorough search of the house. According to police officers, who were not involved in the inquiry such behavior by the officers involved in the Mason File police operation was unlike anything else.
The discovery of Dr. Kelly’s body was also notable in terms of interesting inconsistencies. The body was first found by Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman, passing by. According to them, Dr. Kelly’s body was leaning against a tree. There were no objects around it. According to the police report, the body was on the ground with a knife and a half-empty bottle of mineral water nearby. For some reason, the investigators did not try to probe into these discrepancies either.
However, if the oddities of the police investigation remained a topic of speculation for the public, the mysterious inattention of the coroner who did not pay attention to the discrepancy between the causes of death and the death itself, Norman Baker’s private investigation gave a more or less clear explanation. There were 43 names on the coroner’s list of pathologists, from which, in fact, the person assigned to perform the autopsy and provide an opinion on the cause of death was selected. Of those 43, the coroner chose the one whose experience was the most modest. And this is despite the fact that such a high-profile investigation usually involves the most experienced forensic experts, and quite often the investigation involves two specialists at once.
Norman Baker, of course, did not directly accuse Dr. Hunt, the pathologist involved in the official investigation process, of incompetence or fraud. Facts, in his opinion, speak for themselves. All the more so, as it turned out, Dr. Kelly’s death certificate was issued by the coroner after his meeting with the Home Office. One of Britain’s leading lawyers in a conversation with Authority refused to talk directly about the Kelly case and noted that “meetings between a coroner and high-ranking Home Office officials, and even on the eve of the decision on an important and politically sensitive case, were completely unthinkable and absolutely unacceptable. Nevertheless, such a meeting did take place, after which the coroner and the forensic expert mysteriously lost the capacity to be critical of what the investigation offered them.
The Case of the Friendly Lord
Dr. Kelly’s death caused quite a scandal. Even those Britons who were willing to agree that David Kelly had committed suicide required an explanation from the government as to who was responsible for the suicide. Unable to resist these demands, Tony Blair’s cabinet announced the creation of a special commission of inquiry to investigate all the circumstances surrounding Dr. Kelly’s death. The commission was declared independent and its requirements and decisions were binding and final. Lord Hutton, a man of whom there were two things that could be said, was appointed to head the commission. First, he had never before led an investigation of this magnitude. Second, his previous experience may have indicated that he would make the most convenient decision for the government. “As a character in a popular television series used to say, ‘You don’t have to look for a judge you can push. You have to look for one you don’t have to push,” said Norman Baker, listing the services Lord Hutton rendered to the government. He was a judge in Northern Ireland and became famous for his conviction based on the testimony of a single paid informant, who had been promised immunity from prosecution for other crimes in return for his testimony. After leaving the bench and becoming a lawyer, he repeatedly defended the government in court. Finally, as a Lord Justice, he led a campaign to prevent the extradition of General Pinochet to Spain, which would have embarrassed the British government.
Lord Hutton was personally selected by Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer, a personal friend of Tony Blair. He had no reason to regret his choice. Lord Hutton conducted the investigation thoroughly, but not too thoroughly. For example, failing to find the answers in the case file to questions that even third-rate American action movies try to find out, Lord Hutton did not ask them again. So, it is still a mystery whose fingerprints were found (if any) on the knife lying next to Dr. Kelly’s body. It is also unknown whether Kelly made any calls from the cell phone found on him. And if so, whom to and where to he did make his phone calls.
The decision entered by the Hutton Commission, which was final and subject to no appeals, was that Dr. David Kelly had committed suicide and that none of the persons involved in the case were guilty of driving Dr. Kelly to suicide one way or another. All blame for what happened was attaching to Dr. Kelly himself and to the BBC journalists. The next day, almost every British newspaper published the same headline, “Got it off!” and no one could care less. The highest authority in the case which the Lord Hutton Commission, declared the case of Dr. Kelly thoroughly investigated and closed. It would remain so even now regardless of Norman Baker’s evidence unearthed proving that if that was not murder, at least the suicide was deemed impossible.
Norman has made a huge case. Maybe his investigation will have some serious political implications. But it certainly won’t have any legal consequences,” one of the persons directly involved in the investigation told Authority. And as long as it’s in effect, the Kelly case is closed.
The Case of Dr. Kelly
On 29 May 2003, the BBC went on air with a program by journalist Andrew Gilligan in which he effectively accused Prime Minister Tony Blair and his adviser Alistair Campbell that the official report on Iraq’s military capabilities, which was submitted before the invasion of coalition forces, contained unverified rumors presented as facts in order to strengthen the case for Britain’s involvement in the operation against Saddam Hussein. An example of such unverified (and proven false) information was the story that Iraqi chemical and bacteriological weapons could be used within 45 minutes of Hussein ordering the use thereof. Citing unnamed MOD and Intelligence sources, Gilligan said the paragraph was included in the report at Campbell’s order and apparently with Tony Blair’s consent.
The scandal broke out pretty badly. Campbell launched a real war with the BBC and its correspondent, as well as the unnamed source Gilligan had referred to.
The source was eventually identified: Dr. David Kelly, a senior MOD WMD expert. The Ministry of Defense put him in a most unflattering light and he was summoned to testify before Parliament.
On July 18, 2003, he was found dead. According to the official version, he committed suicide, unable to withstand the shame, the media scrutiny, and, most importantly, the realization that his name as a scientist and expert was ruined forever.
There was a perception in the press that by committing suicide, Dr. Kelly had done a great service to the Prime Minister and some members of the Cabinet by being an extremely inconvenient witness. But talk of foul play gradually subsided after a commission created to investigate into his death circumstances concluded that Kelly’s death was his own fault: it was not the officials who forced him to lie to Parliament and make him look as if he was a criminal, but the natural course of events that followed his indiscreet decision to share his thoughts with journalists that drove him to suicide. The case was closed.