May 14, 2011
A helicopter mysteriously landed at the scene of Dr David Kelly’s death shortly after the body was found. The aircraft only remained on the ground for five minutes before leaving, suggesting it either deposited or collected somebody or something. Details from its flight log, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the helicopter – hired by Thames Valley police – landed at Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire at 10.55am on July 18, 2003, 90 minutes after the body was discovered by volunteer search teams. Significantly, the flight log has been heavily redacted, making it impossible to know who was on board or what its exact purpose was.
The flight was not mentioned in oral evidence at the Hutton Inquiry, set up by Tony Blair to investigate Dr Kelly’s death. Dr Andrew Watt, who has previously raised questions about the suicide finding reached by Lord Hutton, has written to Attorney General Dominic Grieve drawing his attention to the flight. Dr Watt, a clinical pharmacologist, said: ‘If the purpose of the helicopter flight was innocent, one has to ask why it was kept secret.’ The riddle joins the growing list of unanswered questions about the circumstances of the government weapons inspector’s final moments.
It emerges in the same week that Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell were accused of lying to the Chilcot Inquiry into the lead-up to the Iraq war. The Mail reported yesterday how declassified documents from the inquiry revealed a spy chief disputed Campbell’s claim that the dossier was ‘not the case for war’. A senior diplomat also accused the former prime minister of distorting expert reports about the post-war chaos. Dr Kelly is said to have killed himself in woods near his home after being named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing the Labour government of lying to take Britain into war in Iraq.
June 10, 2011
The Attorney General said there was “no evidence” of murder. Dismissing claims of a “cover-up”, Dominic Grieve ruled out asking the High Court to order a hearing, saying the evidence that Dr Kelly committed suicide was “overwhelming”. The government scientist’s body was found in woods close to his Oxfordshire home in 2003 – shortly after he had been revealed as the source of a BBC report questioning the accuracy of the then Labour Government’s dossier arguing the case for war in Iraq. The Hutton Inquiry in 2004 concluded he had killed himself by cutting a wrist and the then Justice Secretary Lord Falconer ruled the inquiry could take the place of a coroner’s inquest.
A group of campaigning doctors claim the evidence does not point to suicide. But Mr Grieve told MPs yesterday: “I’ve concluded that the evidence that Dr Kelly took his own life is overwhelmingly strong. “Further, there is nothing I’ve seen that supports any allegation that Dr Kelly was murdered or that his death was the subject of any kind of conspiracy or cover up.” The group of doctors, led by Dr Stephen Frost, declared they would seek a judicial review of the Attorney General’s decision. Dr Frost commented after the ruling: “This Government has now revealed itself to be complicit in a determined and concerted cover-up.
“Four successive governments have sought to obscure the truth of what happened. The cover-up could not be more obvious.” PM David Cameron also suggested last month a full inquest was not needed, saying the Hutton report had been “fairly clear”. And Labour’s Shadow Solicitor General Catherine McKinnell yesterday backed the Government’s position, agreeing that there was a “lack of new compelling evidence” that Dr Kelly had not committed suicide.