by Dave Randle
Greying his temples and introducing a contrite quaver into his voice might have helped take some of the chill out of Chilcot for him, but Tony Blair’s treachery didn’t begin and end with sending our forces to their doom on a fool’s errand, or igniting the most pointless and tragic war in British history.
Among a long list of other questions unaddressed by that inquiry are those concerning the decimation of the BBC following the now unquestionably ‘sexed-up document’ that resulted in the loss of the last credible Director General and the neutering of all news and current affairs output; the mysteriously bad luck that attended Robin Cook with almost immediate effect when he peached on Blair to the public and took to the hills; and, of course, the utterly unconvincing ‘suicide’ of too-honest weapons inspector, Dr David Kelly.
The good doctor was a thorn in Blair’s side because he knew what he was talking about and wouldn’t compromise his reality to match the script on Saddam Hussein’s fictitious weapons of mass destruction. That script was written, of course, by Alistair Campbell, with or without regard for any (what is euphemistically referred to as) ‘intelligence’ from those departments historically charged with providing the prime minister with the bones and entrails from which to come up with his or her prognostications.
As we have so often seen, their activities have as much to do with post event justification as prior intelligence, as when Mother Thatcher had already sent her convoy on the long journey to the South Atlantic while she was claiming to be occupied in diplomatic discussions.
Even as woefully inadequate a force as Blair sent to Iraq could not be magicked there in a few hours, and would have needed some kind of specialised preparation for the particular campaign, so there must have been a time, even before he came on the telly to plead his case, and before the huge anti-war demonstrations he and the media were ignoring, when the word ‘go’ had been pronounced and there would be no turning back.
But still Dr Kelly, the man who would know, insisted that Hussein was not harbouring weapons of mass destruction, and certainly could not, as Blair and his fellow comedians were claiming, be attacking us in three-quarters-of-an-hour. The doctor’s integrity and credibility was simply not susceptible to any attempted corruption. But his honesty was an affront to the all too venal and unprincipled pro-war hoorays, so they niggled and cajoled and questioned him until he was undoubtedly well past irritated on the pissed-off scale.
Yet he was a calm and reasoned cove. Anyone could see that. His career up to that point was clear proof of it. And he had a certainty borne of knowledge, skill and professionalism that Blair could only counter with blind obsession and a need to be a hero in the eyes of his equally misguided new little American bestie.
One of them snapped, and it wasn’t the good doctor.
Whatever porkies, claims and contradictions emerged from the hastily called Hutton enquiry – hastily called, one suspects, so no experienced coroner had a chance to ask all the missing questions – one thing is as close as it can be to a racing certainty: Dr Kelly did not commit suicide.
One of the main missing questions I’d like to know the answer to is: are all investigations so shambolic?
It would be so interesting to see whether it is usual for there to be no consistency between witnesses, including trained police officers, concerning the position of the body, what it was wearing and whether other important items were present or absent.
Is it normal for the doctor at the scene to take all day before checking the temperature of the body – the vital action that will most nearly establish the time of death?
Is it normal, when someone has been reported as not returning from a walk in the countryside, to banish his wife to the garden while you turn his house over twice, the second time with a dog, before making any effort to find him?
Is it usual for a helicopter with heat-sensing equipment to fail to register a body whose temperature is still likely to be around 25 degrees in an otherwise cold night with little in the way of livestock about?
If all these things were commonplace, there would be less immediate reason for suspicion. We might, on the other hand, conclude that the results of numerous other enquiries are unsound to say the least.
The findings of this particular investigation and subsequent enquiry are that Doctor Kelly, seeking a respite from the pressure of insinuations and press intrusions, put on a green Barbour coat and hat and went off for a walk in familiar territory. He bid a neighbour the time of day and generally behaved in his normal manner, despite having thought to place in the pocket of his jacket a blister pack of 30 of his wife’s coproxamol tablets.
It was well known among his personal acquaintances that he didn’t take tablets – in fact, had great difficulty in swallowing even benign supplement pills. If, as the enquiry led us to believe, he committed suicide, this fact was apparently not known to him.
He did (allegedly) take with him a small bottle of Evian water, which would have done little to assist their passage.
When he arrived in an appropriate clearing, so the narrative goes, he hacked at the ulnar artery in his left wrist with a blunt garden implement, swallowed 29 of the 30 tabs, without finishing the water and managed to stand the bottle beside him on the left hand side so it didn’t fall over, while lying on his back, or face down, or leaning against a tree, depending on which account you accept.
And it was in one of these positions that he was not discovered by any of the ground or air searches all night and into the morning.
Various unidentified suited individuals were hanging about the woods in the morning, before his body was discovered, first by volunteers and then by the majesty of the law.
The volunteers found him leaning against the tree with none of the incriminating items, including the water bottle, apparent.
The police found him at a distance from the tree with the water bottle and the garden implement aforesaid, lying flat on his back.
If he had succeeded in cutting his own artery, there would have been dramatic spurts or even a fountain of blood before the severed halves congealed – as congeal they would. Cutting your wrists is a dramatic, but highly impractical, way of doing yourself in. Few would have known this better than Dr Kelly. The few smudges present at the scene or on his clothing resembled nothing more than contact stains.
According to witnesses, professional and otherwise, he was wearing a blue jacket, a Barbour jacket or no jacket at all. According to various newspaper reports, he was found on his back, face down or contorted in a circle.
It’s fair to conclude that, if he had taken his own life, he didn’t do it somewhere else and then find his way to the clearing.
Someone else did it. They didn’t do it there. The body wasn’t there when the night and early morning searches went on. If his artery was severed with the dibber, it was done by someone with great force and determination from an angle not easily available to the doctor. If he took the drugs at all, which even the actual killer would find it hard to get him to do, he threw most of them up and little residue of them was found in the body, despite the fact that drugs usually concentrate following death.
Dr Kelly was an adherent of the Baha’i faith. Whilst it wouldn’t preclude it entirely, this would also militate against the idea of him taking his own life. The path to godliness is unlikely to be advanced by giving up the ghost and abandoning your family in a situation such as that in which he found himself.
We know that Blair didn’t kill Dr Kelly personally. Cowards and megalomaniacs who send other people’s children off to war while protecting their own never get their own hands dirty.
It’s possible the doctor was a victim of the ‘troublesome priest’ computation that led to the four knights doing for Thomas-a-Becket, or the misguided youth that thought it was helpful to do the same to Richard II.
Maybe he didn’t even give the order, but the outcome can be placed squarely at his door.
(I’m grateful for the background information to this article to Norman Baker MP and his book, ‘The Strange Death of David Kelly’ – Methuen)
Find out about our great (WOW) TLB Project Membership package and benefits, add your voice & change the world!