- November 18, 2003
- Nicholas Gardiner
- Oxfordshire Coroner
- (City) Coroner's Office
- New Post Mortem Suite
- John Radcliffe Hospital
- Headley Way
- OX3 9DU
- Cc. All National Newspapers.
- Dear Mr Gardiner,
- Re: The Death of Dr David Kelly & the Hutton Inquiry
- I am writing to express my deep concerns over the way
the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly
has been conducted.
- In such a high profile case it is surely questionable
that an inquest - where evidence is heard under oath with a jury present
- be replaced by an inquiry where evidence is not given under oath and
witnesses are not subpoenaed and there is no jury. I understand many witnesses
refused to appear at the Inquiry and requested that their statements be
withheld. In a straight inquest you, as coroner, would have powers to
subpoena witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath.
- This would both broaden the scope from that of the Inquiry
and increase the reliability of testimonies.
- In addition, if Lord Hutton's final report reflects the
way the Inquiry has been treated in the media, there is a great danger
that anomalies regarding the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death may be disregarded
or glossed over in favour of political concerns. If I may, I will in this
letter outline some of these anomalies which, in my view, throw a suicide
verdict into question.
- The Body Moved and Items Appeared Beside It
- According to testimonies the first people to see the
body of Dr Kelly were the SEBEVs (volunteers) Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman.
They both described the position of the body as "against" a tree.
Neither of the volunteers reported seeing any of the items around the body
seen by other witnesses - watch, knife, bottle of water, cap. Nor were
they asked by legal counsel whether they had seen them.
- Chronologically the next body-witness was DC Coe, who
described the body as laying on its back. After him came two police constables
PCs Franklin and Sawyer, who also described the body as laying on its back.
- In fact all witnesses subsequent to the volunteers, including
the pathologist (Dr Nicholas Hunt), described the body as laying on its
back and having beside it various items - watch, knife, bottle of water
- The body-witnesses' testimonies indicate that the body
appears to have moved after being seen by the volunteers and before being
seen by all subsequent witnesses, and that the items next to the body seem
to have appeared after the volunteers had left the death scene (the scene).
- It is also noteworthy that PC Sawyer reports that the
body's jeans were "ridden up". This might be expected if the
body was hurriedly dragged from a 'sitting-up' position to a 'laying-on-its-back'
- DC Coe took charge of the scene immediately after the
volunteers reported to him that they had found a body. I am minded to
suggest that either DC Coe moved the body himself, or he must have been
aware of who did move the body. If the first two body-witness testimonies
are correct, then the body was moved. DC Coe maintained that he did not
touch the body and did not mention others moving the body, but if the body
was first sitting-up and then laying down, and DC Coe was in charge of
the scene at the time, then I can only conclude that in some way DC Coe
was involved in moving the body.
- Assistant Chief Constable Page mentioned that three individuals
in dark clothing were seen by a member of the public acting suspiciously
near the scene at the time DC Coe was there. Although ACC Page told the
Inquiry that the three have been accounted for as being members of TVP,
it is surely worth investigating whether or not this is actually correct.
DC Coe himself might have been one of these three individuals, or might
have been working with them.
- The Officers with DC Coe
- First, there is the question of the number of officers
accompanying DC Coe.
- Five witnesses - the two volunteers, PCs Franklin and
Sawyer, and the paramedic (Vanessa Hunt) - clearly state that DC Coe was
with two officers. Yet DC Coe himself, testifying some time later, maintains
that he was with only one other officer - DC Shields.
- Thus, in the six statements with regard to the number
of officers accompanying DC Coe, all but one of them - DC Coe's own - state
that there are two officers with Coe.
- Second, there is the question of whether these officers
were in uniform or in plain clothes.
- Paul Chapman, identifying them through their Thames Valley
Police ID, said they were from CID, so I infer from this they were in plain
clothes. Vanessa Hunt testified that DC Coe was with two plain-clothed
officers - one "search & rescue" (her interpretation of a
man dressed in black polo shirt and trousers), and "one other gentleman".
DC Coe himself said he was with only one other companion - the plain-clothed
detective, DC Shields.
- However PCs Franklin and Sawyer described DC Coe's companions
as "uniformed officers".
- What am I to infer from these anomalies? If five witnesses
say that DC Coe was with two men and he says he was with only one, then
it is necessary to find out who is telling the truth. Similarly, if some
witnesses say these officers are in plain clothes and others say they are
in uniform then that needs to be clarified also. On the face of it, it
looks as though DC Coe is not telling the truth about being accompanied
by only one officer and that PCs Franklin and Sawyer could also be mistaken
about the two officers being "uniformed".
- This is surely a matter for cross-examination or much
more rigorous scrutiny.
- Paucity of Blood
- When asked at the end of their testimonies if they have
anything to add, each ambulance crew member, paramedic (Vanessa Hunt) and
ambulance technician (David Bartlett), independently emphasizes that in
their view, there was surprisingly little blood at the scene for an arterial
bleed. These assertions may be the most important of the whole Inquiry.
The implication from the ambulance crew surely is that if there was very
little visible blood produced at the scene for an arterial bleed, then
death may not have taken place at that spot or in that manner. Yet far
from being probed or examined in any detail as they should have been, these
assertions were alternately denigrated by counsel Mr Dingemans, and ignored
by counsel Mr Knox.
- Vomit Stains from Mouth to Ear
- PC Sawyer reported a dark stain (he thought vomit) from
the right corner of the mouth to the right ear. David Bartlett also reported
that the body had two stains running from both corners of the mouth to
each ear. Such stains are clearly consistent with Dr Kelly having vomited
in a "laying-on-his-back" position but not in a "sitting-up-against-a-tree"
- Ambulance Crew Saw no Wounds
- Both ambulance crew witnessed the left hand positioned
palm-up, and as Dr Hunt reports, it was the left wrist which was wounded.
Thus both ambulance crew must have had a good view of the area of the
arm and wrist where the five incisions reported by Dr Hunt were made. Yet
neither of the ambulance crew members reports seeing any wounds. The blood
may have dried onto the wounds and completely covered them but this question
needs further exploration.
- Ulnar Artery not Radial
- The fact that the ulnar artery was severed, but not the
radial artery, where the latter is generally far more accessible (closer
to the surface) than the former (which is deeper) strongly suggests that
the knife-wound was inflicted by drawing the blade from the inside of the
wrist (the little finger side closest to the body) to the outside. This
is an action that may well have been performed by another party. Yet Dr
Hunt's testimony made no mention of the direction in which any of the cuts
had been made. I understand that this should be normal procedure for a
- In summary, the points presented above lead to the following
- 1. If an arterial bleed was the major cause of death
(as stated by Dr Hunt) then there would have been more blood present at
the scene of death than was seen by the ambulance crew. Very little blood
at the scene suggests that Dr Kelly did not die where his body was found.
While Dr Hunt and the forensic biologist (Roy Green) suggest that blood
may have disappeared into leaf litter, no evidence has been publicly presented
to demonstrate that this was in fact the case.
- 2. If the cause of Dr Kelly's death was an arterial
bleed and there was very little blood at the place where he was found,
this suggests he died elsewhere. As has been shown, testimonies suggest
that at one point the body was sitting-up, and then later on, laying on
its back. This reinforces the suggestion that Dr Kelly did in fact die
in a different place and was moved to the copse on Harrowdown Hill. The
body may initially have been positioned incorrectly to be consistent with
livor mortis and the vomit stains on his face, and had to be repositioned.
It is also possible that those setting up the "suicide-scene"
were in fact disturbed in their work by the volunteers and that the reason
Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman did not see any items surrounding the body
was because they had not yet been placed in position.
- 3. DC Coe was in charge of the scene during the period
when the body was moved. It is reasonable to infer from this that either
he moved it himself or was aware of others doing so. Secondly, but equally
importantly, DC Coe contradicts no fewer than five other witness testimonies
when he claims to have been accompanied by just one (and not two) other
officers. His testimony appears to be particularly unreliable.
- 4. Both PCs Sawyer and Franklin report that DC Coe
had two uniformed officers with him - contradicting all other testimony.
This suggests that their testimony needs rigorous cross-checking with that
of witnesses who assert the officers were in plain-clothes.
- 5. The fact that the ambulance crew state that they
did not see actual wounds could indicate that the five incisions in the
body's left arm (or some of them) may have been inflicted after they (the
ambulance crew) left the scene. An independent examination of the body,
or the cause of death evidence, by a second pathologist may be required
to ascertain if this is the case.
- 6. It is remarkable that the ulnar artery was severed
rather than the radial given that the radial is far easier to cut - and
hence less painful - when attempting suicide. This evidence suggests that
the wrist may have been cut by another party.
- I trust that you find sufficient material evidence in
the above to conclude that Dr David Kelly may well not, in fact, have taken
his own life and that another party was involved. If Lord Hutton's final
report concludes that Dr Kelly did commit suicide, I would like to strongly
recommend your original inquest into Dr KellyÕs death be resumed
so that testimonies can be made under oath and with a jury present.
- Yours sincerely,