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Streets of London: Hutton Inquiry Update - Day 17

From the Streets of London with William Moloney

Hutton Inquiry Update - Day 17

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Today five witness were called: Detective Constable Coe first police officer at site of Dr. Kelly’s death, Dr. Nicolas Hunt a pathologist who examined Dr. Kelly, Martin Howard former head of communications and director of news at the Inquiry, Dr. Andrew Shuttleworth Dr. Kelly’s Resource Manager at MOD Porton Down and Kate Wilson Chief Press Officer at the MOD.

Today was the first time that we have seen the Kelly’s family counsel take a major part in proceedings. They were seen to pursue, with much vigour, answers on the issue of the naming of Dr. Kelly. This could foreshadow very critical cross-examination of the political figures, namely Alistair Campbell and Geoff Hoon, in the coming days of the Inquiry.

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Today’s Evidence

Detective Constable Coe

Detective Coe said that he had been called on to make house to house enquires on the 18th after Dr. Kelly had been reported missing.

A volunteer member of the search team told he and his colleague that they had found a body in the woods. This body was later identified as Dr. Kelly.

He saw Dr. Kelly’s body lying against a tree, with his head toward the trunk.

He stayed with the body till other officers arrived half an hour later.

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Dr. Nicolas Hunt- Home Office Pathologist

Dr. Hunt, a Home Office Pathologist, was asked to the attend Dr. Kelly’s body by the Thames Valley Police.

"He was lying on his back, fully clothed, with his boots on. His left arm was towards his side, his right arm was over his chest area."

The post mortem was carried out in Oxford, at John Radcliffe Hospital, that evening.

When found Dr. Kelly was fully clothed, but his glasses were off. A pruning knife was found near him. Dr. Kelly had bloodstains on his body and there were bloodstains in the undergrowth. Dr. Kelly had soil on his left hand side.

His left arm and wrist had a series of wounds, with the deepest being near the elbow.

These wounds were consistent with someone taking their own life Dr. Hunt said, with the minor wounds being “hesitation marks”.

Dr. Hunt said there were no indications of defensive wounds, from Dr. Kelly trying to "parry blows from a weapon or trying to grab a weapon".

Lord Hutton enquired whether there were indications that Dr. Kelly could have been “overpowered” by a chemical agent like chloroform.

"There was no positive pathological evidence that this man had been subjected to any sustained, violent assault prior to his death…. There is no evidence from the post mortem examination or my observations at the scene to indicate the deceased had been dragged, or otherwise transported, to the location where his body was found."

Asked what he thought the cause of Dr. Kelly’s death was, Dr. Hunt replied, "It is the hemorrhage as the result of the incised wounds to his left wrist."

Dr. Hunt when asked whether the Dr. Kelly’ heart disease or the drug Dr. Kelly had taken an overdose of (dextropropoxyphene) were factors in his death, he replied "As with the drug, it would have hastened death rather than caused it as such."

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Martin Howard- Former Head of Communications and Director of News at the MOD

Mr. Howard said he attended a meeting on the 8th of July in the offices of Sir Kevin Tebbit, Permanent Secretary of the MOD, where a decision regarding making a statement after Dr. Kelly had come forward as the source of Andrew Gilligans story.

He discussed, with Pam Teere, the MOD’s Head of News, a Q and A for journalists. His understanding was that if a journalist put a correct name, the MOD would confirm it.

When questioned over this understanding, he replied, "I thought it would have been very difficult to do otherwise. The purpose of the Q&A was to provide truthful and factual answers."

After these initial discussions with Ms Teere, the meeting continued in Sir Kevin’s office for 3 to 4 hours. Mr. Hoon's and Sir Kevin’s Principle Private Secretary’s attended from time to time.

Once the statement had been agreed, it was decided that Richard Hatfield, MOD Personnel Director, "would put the terms of the statement to Dr Kelly".

It was confirmed later that "Mr. Hatfield had spoken to Dr Kelly, had read out a statement to him and reported that Dr Kelly said he was content".

He was surprised how much criticism that the MOD had been under from naming Dr. Kelly. He had thought about other options including denying that Dr. Kelly was the source but "that would have been a direct lie and unacceptable for a government department,"

He denied, when asked, that the Q and A was a ploy to name Dr. Kelly.

Jeremy Gompertz QC, acting for the Kelly family, asked who had made the decision to name Dr. Kelly.

Mr. Howard reply was "It is hard to say that any one person should be publicly identified. The fact that his name should be confirmed was set out in the Q&A brief and that was approved by Sir Kevin Tebbit."

When pressed by counsel Mr. Howard said, Sir Kevin "was certainly part of the process of agreeing that we would confirm the name if it was put to us….” But he "was not aware at the time that the secretary of state was part of the decision".

Mr. Hoon did not attend any of the meetings on the naming strategy but his Principle Private Secretary did.

Mr. Gompertz asked whether the decision was taken that Dr. Kelly should be named, by these means, rather than directly named.

“No there was not” was Mr. Howard reply.

Mr. Gompertz suggested that it "amounted to a parlour game for journalists", which Mr. Howard denied.

“Or was it Russian roulette” was counsels reply.

“No it was not that either” Mr. Howard asserted.

"I suggest to you that the strategy that was adopted with regard to Dr Kelly's name was both cynical and irresponsible." Mr. Gompertz continued.

Mr. Gompertz then asked whether Dr. Kelly had been consulted about the release of his name. Mr. Howard replied, "I do not believe he was asked in those terms.

"Do you not agree that Dr Kelly was treated shabbily in relation to this episode?" Mr. Gompertz pressed.

Mr. Howard replied “No I do not agree”.

Mr. Howard said that Dr. Kelly had agreed to the Press Statement and had known his name would come out.

When asked, Mr. Howard did not know why Dr. Kelly would have told both his wife and a friend that he feared both his security clearance and pension would be removed over this issue.

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Dr. Andrew Shuttleworth- Dr. Kelly’s Resource Manager at the Defence Science Technology Lab, Porto Down.

Dr. Shuttleworth gave his evidence via audio link.

Dr. Shuttleworth was asked about his responsibilities in regards Dr. Kelly. His reply was that they were to set his annual targets, complete his annual review and partial responsibility for pay rises.

Dr. Kelly had approached Dr. Shuttleworth in April 1999 to ask for a pay rise, as he had not received one in 3 years.

Dr. Shuttleworth pursued the matter for Dr. Kelly as Dr. Kelly had been travelling to Iraq.

After initially being told that he would be up-graded to and be put forward for membership of the Senior Civil Service, it was not fulfilled.

"There seemed to be quite a bit of confusion," said Dr Shuttleworth.

Dr. Kelly was thinking about retirement in 1999.

Mr. Shuttleworth said that when Dr. Kelly worked for both the MOD and Unscom, he was conflicted on statements to the Press. For the MOD it was part of his role but at Unscom, he had signed a confidentially agreement.

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Kate Wilson- MOD Chief Press Officer

On the 8th of July, after the MOD statement was released about the unnamed source, Mr. Wilson had had two conversations with Dr. Kelly.

She had told him that the statement had gone out and tried to give him her contact number, but as Dr. Kelly did not have a pen, could not. She confirmed that he had the duty press officer’s number.

When speaking to Dr. Kelly the next day, he mentioned that Nick Rufford of The Sunday Times had contacted him, and that this had prompted him to take his family to stay with friends in the West Country. He told her that he would inform her where he was going.

She thought he was calm and had asked Sir Kevin’s office to contact him.

She was then informed that Dr. Kelly felt betrayed by the MOD.

Her reply was "Journalists already had his number. We weren't in a position to stop journalists calling him direct. What we did not do was give clues to journalists, which is what has been suggested. We were sticking to legitimate facts and questions."

She was also asked about her conversations with Andrew Gilligan.

On the 28th May she had an unrelated conversation with Mr. Gilligan where "At the end of the conversation I asked him whether there was anything else running on the program and he said he had something he was working on WMD and the dodgy dossier. He said it was not a matter for the MoD so I did not pursue it."

Ms. Wilson said, Richard Wally, now in Iraq, was on duty on the morning of the Today programme broadcast and took notes.

His notes read "Unnamed source - single source - 45 minutes - TB under threat."

The Press Office at Number 10 called her on the 28th of June to say that Mr. Gilligan was claiming that he had checked his story with her.

"I said I would double check but he certainly did not check it with me," she said.

Mr. Gilligan called the MOD office at this time "to say he wanted to put on record that he had spoken to me and that is what he said but he hung up at that point".

She described this as “bizarre”.

******ENDS******

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