by Robert Henderson
What a tremendously thoughtful fellow Dr David Kelly must have been. He supposedly committed suicide by slashing his left wrist, but had the good manners not to bleed too much in case it made a frightful mess. Not only that, doubtless through concern that he should not create any unnecessary work for the authorities, he managed to handle without leaving fingerprints the pruning knife with which he cut his wrist, the three packets of co-proxamol tablets he took to kill the pain, the water bottle he used to take the tablets, his mobile phone and his watch which he took off and left close to his body. As for his failure to leave a suicide note, this can surely only be explained by a career civil servant’s desire not to cause embarrassment or worse to the Government and his civil service colleagues.
Well, that is the class of tosh which the British public has implicitly been asked to believe since Kelly’s death. Unsurprisingly, many people have doubts about whether that the death was suicide. The BBC broadcast a programme on Kelly on 25 February 2007 as part of the series The Conspiracy Files (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/programmes/if/transcripts/david_kelly.txt) . The programme commissioned an Opinion poll to establish the views of the public on his death. 22.7% of those surveyed thought Kelly had not killed himself, 38.8% of people believe he had, and 38.5% said they did not know (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6366159.stm).
The doubters include the former Conservative leader Michael Howard who in August 2010 called for the inquest to be re-opened in 2010 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1303190/Michael-Howard-leads-MPs-Dr-David-Kelly-inquest.html) and the Lib Dem MP Norman Baker whose book The Strange Death of David Kelly was serialised in the Daily Mail before publication in November 2007.
A group of doctors who have been trying since 2004 to get the inquest which was adjourned before the Hutton Inquiry resumed . In December 2010 they submitted a petition to the Attorney –General Dominic Grieve asking for the inquest to be resumed. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337661/David-Kelly-report.html)
Grieve asked for additional information and the doctors (Stephen Frost, Christopher Burns-Cox, David Halpin and Andrew Rouse) submitted this to Grieve at the end of February 2011. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361953/Fingerprint-riddle-leads-new-Dr-David-Kelly-inquest.html).
The additional information, obtained by using the FOIA, confirmed the lack of fingerprints on the knife, drug packets, water-bottle, watch and phone. The absence of fingerprints was not raised during the Hutton Inquiry , nor were any of the five items introduced as evidence.
The absence of the fingerprints produces evidence that Kelly did not kill himself which is in a different category to all the other objections which have been raised which are either matters of opinion or rely on circumstantial evidence such as the failure to introduce seemingly pertinent and important evidence into the Hutton Inquiry . Medical experts may argue over such things as whether the loss of blood together with the ingestion of co-proxamol tablets and moderate heart disease were enough to kill Kelly; whether the half litre water bottle out of which approximately half a pint of water had been drunk was enough water to swallow 29 tablets or whether Kelly was capable of using his right arm to cut himself because of he had broken it some time before his death and it had not healed properly (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1050919/David-Kellys-closest-female-confidante-COULDNT-killed-himself.html)
As for what appears to be a blanket desire on the part of the part of the Blair Government and all those officially associated with the death – the Lord Chancellor, the Oxford coroner, Lord Hutton, the pathologist who conducted the post mortem and so on – to prevent an inquest and/or ensure that the Hutton Inquiry could have only one result, namely, that Kelly committed suicide, that in itself does not mean their motives were to prevent the discovery of a murder for there could plausibly be other reasons. Suppose, for example, at Kelly had received credible death threats from a security agency either foreign or British.
The reported absence of fingerprints, if it is true, is a fact. It cannot be gainsaid or argued away. Because no gloves were found at the site where the body was found, Kelly’s fingerprints should have been on these items, especially the knife which he must have held for some time if he committed suicide because his left wrist showed a number of cuts and cutting an artery in the wrist requires .
Where does this leave us? Investigation work is best done by sticking to the hard facts and then following the logic from them to possibilities. The central hard fact in this case is not that Kelly’s fingerprints were missing from the five objects , but the fact that the British authorities say they were not on the various objects. This gives us two possibilities, that the authorities are telling the truth or lying. If they are lying we are left with these possibilities:
1. Kelly’s prints are on all or some of the objects but there is some reason, such as someone else’s prints being on some or all of the items, especially the knife, for saying Kelly’s prints were not on them. This might seem odd but think about it. If there are other prints, to admit that Kelly’s prints were on them would open the way to admitting that other prints had been found. That would be difficult going on impossible to explain if they were the prints of anyone other than those who had who might conceivably have handled them shortly before his death. Kelly’s wife would probably be the only person who falls into that category. The worst case scenario for the authorities would be the finding of a third party’s prints which were identifiable as those of either a known hitman or an agent of a security service either British or foreign. If Kelly’s prints and those of a stranger were found, the suppression of the evidence would potentially require criminal behaviour – perjury, perverting the course of justice, forgery – on the part of those who tested for prints and those who knew what had been found. There would also be the problem of the possibility that the objects might be the subject of independent testing at some future date. The authorities would then have to decide whether to wipe or destroy the objects.
2. Kelly’s prints are on some but not all of the objects. For example, he might have been forced to take the co-proxamol. This could have resulted in fingerprints on the water-bottle and the packets of co-proxamol or simply fingerprints on the water-bottle if the killer(s) took the tablets from the packets and gave them to Kelly. If the killer(s) then slashed Kelly’s wrist it is plausible that whoever did it cut a number of times with ever deepening cuts because they were unsure of how to do it. (It would be interesting to see the angle of the cuts. It made by someone other than Kelly they would probably be at an angle Kelly could not have achieved.) The fact that the watch has blood on it would fit in with this explanation, because having blood on it after it was removed from the wrist suggests that whoever cut Kelly’s wrist began cutting with the watch on, then took it off when they found it impeded the cutting. This could also explain why a number of cuts were made. Alternatively, if Kelly’s prints are on the knife, he could have been forced to make the cuts.
3. Kelly’s prints are on none of the objects, but the prints of other people are. This could mean that Kelly was restrained when taking the co-proximal tablets and the packets were opened by his killer(s) who put the tablets into his mouth then fed him with water to facilitate swallowing.
There remains the possibility that no fingerprints are on the items. If so, that would mean the killer(s) did what that described in (3) but wore gloves.
The objects, if they still exist, should be subjected to independent forensic testing. Apart from determining whether there are any prints, this could potentially show if the items were wiped to erase prints – examine them under high magnification to look for wipe marks; test for chemicals which would indicate cleaning – and allow a check for DNA. Even if the items were DNA checked at the time of death, and I have been unable to find out whether they were, the technique for extracting useful DNA has advanced considerably since Kelly’s death and minute amounts of material can now be used.
If it was a murder why were so many loose ends left untied? The favourite explanation would be simple incompetence. The killers remembered not to leave their own prints but forgot to put Kelly’s prints on the knife etc. It does not do to imagine hired killers always behave as they normally do in films, that is, calm and calculating with no tendency to panic.
If you want a Machiavellian explanation here are a few. The “suicide” might have been deliberately botched to either embarrass the British Government or to send out the message to others “behave or else!” . Alternatively, suppose the murder was committed by a friendly power, for example, the US or Israel, who wished to disguise their involvement by introducing a bogus incompetence into the affair. Or how about introducing the incompetence simply to confuse matters so that a number of potential agencies with differing motives might be suspected? It might even be that the murder was carried out by the British security services, but they were not happy with doing it and deliberately botched the job in the hope that the public would see it was a killing not suicide.
The thing we do not know is what was the cause of Kelly’s death. The slashing of the wrist and the co-proxamol tablets could simply be a blind to cover another way to death, perhaps by some difficult to identify poison. This is suggested by the evidence of the doctors who have expressed doubts about whether the loss of blood, the co-proxamol and the heart condition would have been sufficient to kill Kelly. It could even be that Kelly was abducted and the shock of either being forced to cut his wrist or having it cut for him caused him to die. This could explain why little blood was lost. It could even be that the true cause of death was found and has been suppressed.
It is not certain that Kelly was murdered. What is certain is that the Hutton Inquiry was a woefully inadequate investigation into the man’s death. An inquest is the least which is required. Kelly’s body was buried not cremated so a further post mortem could be carried out prior to an inquest. Amongst other things, another post mortem might give a certain answer to whether Kelly had the strength in his right arm to make the cuts which supposedly killed him.