26 July 2006 — Daily Mail
David Kelly did not commit suicide and may have been the victim of a murder and subsequent coverup, according to a campaigning MP. Norman Baker has spent six months investigating the death of the Government weapons expert, found dead in an Oxfordshire wood three years ago.
Mr Baker – who stepped down from the Liberal Democrat front bench to carry out his investigation – published his preliminary results and called for a new public inquiry.
His concerns begin with the method of Dr Kelly’s supposed suicide, cutting a minor artery with a blunt gardening knife.
He would have been the only person that year to have successfully killed themselves that way in the UK.
The scientist’s family and friends insist he had shown no sign of feeling suicidal. Emails and the minutes of meetings he attended also showed him behaving perfectly normally – and he was looking forward to his daughter’s wedding.
Mr Baker also questions the painkillers Dr Kelly is said to have taken, not least because the levels found in his stomach were incompatible with his supposed consumption.
There are also basic questions about the police investigation – including the appearance beside Dr Kelly’s body of a bottle of water, knife and watch which the people who found him say they did not see.
On the Hutton Inquiry itself, Mr Baker – whose conclusions were outlined in the Mail on Sunday – says Lord Hutton was completely out of his depth.
He had never chaired such an important inquiry and had a history of making pro-Government decisions as a judge. The MP claims Hutton was personally selected for the job by Tony Blair’s close friend Charles Falconer, the Lord Chancellor.
The tragic story began in May 2003 when BBC radio journalist Andrew Gilligan alleged that the Government had deliberately ‘sexed up’ a dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to justify an invasion.
The Government went on the offensive and eventually exposed Dr Kelly as the BBC man’s source, a move which thrust the publicity-shy scientist into a media storm.
Days later, the 59-year-old father of three was found slumped under a tree five miles from his home in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
‘More than enough cause to reopen the inquest’ – Baker
The Government immediately set up an inquiry under Lord Hutton to investigate the death. The two-month probe concluded that the scientist had taken his own life.
Mr Baker has consistently been a thorn in the Government’s side. He previously revealed former minister Peter Mandelson’s links to the Hinduja brothers, who were granted British passports shortly after investing money to the Millennium Dome.
He claimed that since the Hutton Inquiry concluded, there has been ‘growing public disquiet’ about Dr Kelly’s death.
He said: “Any reasonable person looking at the evidence would, at the very least, agree that further investigation is necessary.
“If it wasn’t suicide, then clearly Dr Kelly was bumped off. My aim is to find out exactly what happened. Frankly, there is more than enough cause to reopen the inquest.”
Mr Baker’s investigation comes after three senior doctors claimed the official cause of death – a severed ulnar artery in the wrist – was extremely unlikely to be fatal.
David Halpin, Stephen Frost and Searle Sennett said: “Arteries in the wrist are of matchstick thickness and severing them does not lead to life-threatening blood loss.”
Mr Baker said that, according to the Office for National Statistics, Dr Kelly was the only person in 2003 to kill themselves that way. He says a scientist would have cut a larger artery, ensuring a swift death.
Although Dr Kelly was facing intense pressure over his exposure as the BBC source, Mr Baker produces evidence that he did not appear depressed.
Two days before his death, he made jokes at a Government committee meeting. On the day he disappeared, he spoke of returning to Iraq in the future.
He was a member of the Baha’i faith, which forbids suicide, and one of his daughters was about to marry. Dr Kelly’s sister Sarah Pape, a consultant plastic surgeon, told the Hutton Inquiry: “In my line of work I deal with people who may have suicidal thoughts, and I ought to be able to spot those even in a phone conversation.
“But I have gone over in my mind the two conversations we had and he certainly did not betray to me any impression that he was anything other than tired.
“He certainly did not convey to me that he was feeling depressed and absolutely nothing that would have alerted me to the fact that he may have been considering suicide.”
An inquest into Dr Kelly’s death was opened, but never concluded as the Hutton Inquiry was deemed to have served the same purpose. Mr Baker criticises this decision, arguing that, unlike an inquest, the Hutton Inquiry did not have the power to subpoena witnesses or make them give evidence under oath.
He says: “What was the point of setting up an inquiry to look into the circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death when the facts had, it appeared, already been decided?”
Peter Jacobsen, solicitor for Dr Kelly’s widow, said the family would not comment.