The official story of Dr David Kelly is that he took his own life in an Oxfordshire wood by overdosing on painkillers and cutting his left wrist with a pruning knife. He was said to be devastated after being unmasked as the source of the BBC’s claim that the Government had ‘sexed up’ the case for war in Iraq. A subsequent official inquiry led by Lord Hutton into the circumstances leading to the death came to the unequivocal conclusion that Kelly committed suicide. Yet suspicions of foul play still hang heavy over the death of the weapons expert whose body was found seven years ago next month in one of the most notorious episodes of Tony Blair’s premiership.
Many believe the truth about the manner of Dr Kelly’s death has never been established properly. Some even fear that the 59-year-old, the world’s leading expert in biological and chemical weapons, was murdered. Of course, it would be easy to dismiss these sceptics as wild conspiracy theorists — but for the fact they include eminent doctors and MPs. The blanket of secrecy thrown over the case by the last Labour Government has only fuelled the sense of mystery. In January this year, it emerged that unpublished medical and scientific records relating to Dr Kelly’s death – including the post-mortem report and photographs of his body – had been secretly classified so as not to be made public for 70 years.Lord Hutton, who had been appointed by Blair, was responsible for this extraordinary gagging order, yet its legal basis has baffled experts accustomed to such matters. Against this shadowy background, we have conducted a rigorous and thorough investigation into the mystery that surrounds the death of David Kelly. And our investigation has turned up evidence which raises still more disturbing questions. Our new revelations include the ambiguous nature of the wording on Dr Kelly’s death certificate; the existence of an anonymous letter which says his colleagues were warned to stay away from his funeral; and an extraordinary claim that the wallpaper at Dr Kelly’s home was stripped by police in the hours after he was reported missing – but before his body was found.
Dr Hunt’s duty as forensic pathologist is to help uphold the rule of law. In March 2004, after the Hutton Report was published, Dr Hunt contacted Channel 4 News and said he thought a full coroner’s inquest should be held. Yet mysteriously, he says now that – despite contacting the TV station – he has ‘maintained a silence on this [matter] on behalf of the [Kelly] family for a very long time’. Adding further to the case for a proper inquest is a new fascinating claim by a woman who has also worked closely with the doctors and helped Norman Baker with his book. Rowena Thursby, a former publishing executive who became fascinated with the case and started looking into it, told us that Dr Kelly’s widow, Janice, admitted to her that on the night Dr Kelly was reported missing in July 2003 – but hours before his body was found -Thames Valley Police asked her and her daughters to leave their house and wait in the garden.
It later emerged that while the Kellys were outside, officers stripped wallpaper from their sitting room. Why would they have done that? Could they have been ‘sweeping’ his property for listening devices? It is certainly a possibility. Despite the fact that the Labour government patronisingly dismissed him as a ‘Walter Mitty character’ and nothing more than a middle ranking official in the Ministry of Defence, Dr Kelly was arguably the world’s pre-eminent expert on biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. We have established that he had access to the highest levels of the security services and was cleared to see the most highly classified intelligence.
The claim that police removed wallpaper from his house has never been confirmed or denied by Thames Valley Police — they refuse to make any comments about the Kelly case. All these new revelations add weight to the list of unanswered questions surrounding Dr Kelly’s death, such as why were no fingerprints found on the knife with which he allegedly killed himself — even though he wore no gloves. As with the extraordinary details of the helicopter search, this vital information was only obtained using the Freedom of Information Act almost five years after the Hutton
Inquiry ended. It was not heard at the inquiry. The doctors insist that concern about Dr Kelly’s death will continue to deepen until a full coroner’s inquest is heard. If one is finally granted, many will expect Tony Blair and Lord Falconer to be called to explain under oath why they went to such lengths to avoid the normal, rigorous and respected course of this country’s law. Until this happens their reputations will continue to suffer, as will the reputation of the British legal system. The unavoidable conclusion must be that a full coroner’s inquest is the only way the whole truth about the Kelly affair, however uncomfortable, will emerge.