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Rowena Thursby: Is Gilligan Afraid Of The Truth?

Is Gilligan Afraid Of The Truth?

By Rowena Thursby, Kelly Investigation Group
Thursday, 17th August 2006

Andrew Gilligan's article from London's 'Evening Standard' can be found on the blog - CLICK HERE.

You would think a journalist whose BBC career was ruined by the death of Dr Kelly would be terrier-like in his determination to get at the truth. Not so Andrew Gilligan. Baker and the conspiracy theories are wrong' he states in his 24 July 'Evening Standard' article ‘ Those who say Kelly was murdered are so wrong ‘. But as no one has put up any 'theories', how can they be 'wrong?'

He's 'pretty sure' that David did commit suicide. But one man's 'pretty sure' is not good enough. Suicide, according to the law, must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. And this is one high-profile 'suicide' that leaves room for a disturbing amount of doubt.

A Motive for Murder

Gilligan maintains there was no real motive for anyone to murder Dr Kelly. MI5 and MI6, he says, don't 'pop off their citizens whenever they feel like it'. But maybe, when pushed, they do pop off the odd one or two. Given that the security services work on a highly compartmentalised, need-to-know basis, it is perfectly credible that cabals within MI5 or MI6 make 'rogue' decisions and then organise the dirty work. Kelly's death 'didn't do them much good' says Gilligan. Well actually, it did. The Hutton Inquiry provided a marvellous distraction from the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. After it was over and Kelly was out of the way, top spook John Scarlett could go on weaving his lies about WMD more or less unchallenged. Ten months after Kelly’s death he was promoted to head of MI6.

Privy to highly sensitive information as Head of Microbiology at Porton Down from 1984 to 1992, and as Senior Advisor on Biological Weapons to UNSCOM from 1994-99, Dr Kelly was subject to a rigorous vetting procedure. We know he was being vetted in the months prior to his death, so it is likely that his every move was being watched. In a whispering campaign, a spokesman for the Prime Minister dubbed him a ‘Walter Mitty' figure and a 'fantasist', while Sir Kevin Tebbit of the MoD called him 'eccentric and unreliable'. But in reality the most dangerous quality to figures in power was his fierce regard for the truth.

Two lies were pivotal to the invasion of Iraq: one was that the mobile laboratories found in Iraq were evidence of WMD, and the other was that WMD could be launched from Iraq at British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes. Kelly demolished them both. It was he who had leaked to the Observer that the mobile laboratories were not for WMD, and it was he who had expressed deep unhappiness with the claim that WMD could be launched from Iraq in 45 minutes. Kelly was one of the most senior and highly-respected weapons inspectors. His return to Iraq on 26 July 2003, a date that was confirmed by the MoD the day before he disappeared, would have risked his being able to demonstrate conclusively that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Strong Medical Evidence

If he were genuinely interested in the true medical cause of Dr Kelly's death, Gilligan would have taken a close look at the objections raised to the official line.

Rather than interrogate the nine medical members of the Kelly Investigation Group (KIG), two of them vascular surgeons, he tries to counter the main arguments against suicide by selecting the dismissive blusterings of Professor Chris Milroy, a forensic pathologist with no access to the post mortem report, yet who asserted with confidence that Dr Kelly had taken 'a substantial overdose'.

True, there was considerably more than a therapeutic dose of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's blood, but according to Richard Allan, the forensic toxicologist reporting to the Hutton Inquiry, nowhere near enough to kill him. According to the actual blood tests, Dr Allan declared the amount of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's blood was a quarter to a third of what is normally a fatal amount.

It has largely been assumed, that because 29 tablets of the painkiller co-proxamol were missing from the three blister packs in Dr Kelly's pockets, that he took all 29. Even if that were so, he could not have assimilated them all, because he regurgitated a large part of his stomach contents.

Attempting to gauge how much of a particular drug a person took before their death is not an exact science. One of Milroy's colleagues at the University of Sheffield, forensic toxicologist Professor Robert Forrest, has helpfully pointed out that drug concentrations in the blood increase markedly over time. Since Dr Allan did not analyse Dr Kelly's blood for around 30 hours, the concentration of co-proxamol components may have increased up to tenfold. So while at the time of testing, Dr Allan judged the amount of co-proxamol in the blood to be only a third of what is normally a fatal amount, this could mean that the actual amount ingested by Dr Kelly 30 hours earlier, was far less than a third of a fatal amount - possibly as little as a thirtieth.

As well as increasing over time, the concentration of a drug is site-dependent, higher in some locations and lower in others. The forensic toxicologist has no way of knowing from which part of the cadaver the blood was taken; thus whatever the measurement, it will be of questionable value. In addition, because of biochemical individuality, the amount of a drug causing death in one person may not cause death in another.

Prompted by the KIG doctors' comments on the toxicology, and concerned about miscarriages of justice arising from misleading assessments on the amount of drug ingested, Professor Forrest set up the 'International Toxicology Advisory Group'.

In an article to the BMJ entitled 'Forensic Science in the Dock' the four authors assert:

‘Post-mortem measurements of drug concentration in blood have scant meaning.... The paucity of evidence-based science, coupled with the pretence that such science exists in regard to postmortem toxicology, leads to the abuse of process, almost certainly to miscarriages of justice, and possibly even to false perceptions of conspiracy and cover up.'

In the case of Dr Kelly, it may also have led to the false perception that forensic science confirmed suicide, when in fact, it is completely unable to do so.

Insufficient Blood?

The two paramedics attending Dr Kelly's body were so disturbed by the absence of blood at the scene that they called a press conference. Far from finding blood 'puddled around' as one of the policemen asserted, they saw little blood anywhere - a little dried blood on the wrist, a contact stain on one of the trouser knees, and not much else.

To have died of haemorrhage, Dr Kelly would have to have lost several pints of blood. Perhaps, writes Gilligan, the blood seeped into the ground. But where is the evidence that it seeped into the ground? Were soil samples taken? Did tests done on the soil show a large quantity of blood had seeped into the ground? Was it measured? We were never told. The Hutton barristers did not even put the question. Nor were we told the residual blood volume in Dr Kelly's body. If he had bled out, tests at autopsy would have made it apparent.

In any case, one of the fundamental points put by eminent surgeons - two of them specialists in vascular surgery - is that a single transected ulnar artery of matchstick size would have constricted and retracted almost immediately, and the blood would have clotted. In their view it would be unlikely that Dr Kelly would have lost more than around a pint of blood. Atherosclerosis, discovered at the post-mortem, would have made very little difference to blood flow. Haemorrhage then, is highly unlikely to have been - as stated on the death certificate and at the Hutton Inquiry - the primary cause of death.

What disturbed the paramedics was not so much the lack of blood per se, as the way the blood was distributed. A pint of blood spurting from an artery will still make a huge mess. As Vanessa Hunt explained:

'If you manage to cut a wrist and catch an artery you would get a spraying of blood, regardless of whether it's an accident... Because of the nature of an arterial cut, you get a pumping action. I would certainly expect a lot more blood on his clothing, on his shirt.

There was ‘arterial rain’ on the nettles - so why virtually none on his clothing? Under the circumstances he is hardly likely to have worried about keeping his shirt clean. Could it be that a third party held out Dr Kelly's left arm and slashed his wrist - thus spraying blood on the nettles but not on his clothes? It is certainly conceivable.

In support of this possibility, let us focus on Dr Kelly's injury. We are told a deep incision was made into his left wrist, severing the ulnar artery. Those who choose to commit suicide by slashing their wrists, normally slash both and sit in a warm bath. To slash only one out in the open air seems odd. The most successful method is to cut longitudinally along the arm, but when transected, the most common artery slashed is the radial because it is close to the suface. The ulnar lies beneath tendons deep within the wrist on the little finger side; even with a very sharp blade it is difficult to reach. Now which is more likely: Dr Kelly picks up his blunt pruning knife, the one he normally uses to cut branches on his walks, and avoiding the radial artery completely, forces it down through tendons into a tiny artery and slices it right through -- or an assassin with military training, picks up his left arm, uses Kelly's knife, and brutally slices down and across one side of his wrist?

Photographs of Dr Kelly's body show it was moved

Gilligan writes of 'confusion' about body position and fallibility of eye-witnesses. But there is no doubt. Dr Kelly's body was moved. We know that, not from eye-witness accounts, but from photographs. Photographs show the body in at least two different positions. In Chapter 5 of his report, Lord Hutton refers to a photograph which shows Dr Kelly's body slumped against the tree, and yet PC Martyn Sawyer, charged with taking official police photographs, stated to the Hutton Inquiry that Dr Kelly's body was lying horizontally on its back, away from the tree. The two search volunteers who discovered the body, were quite sure it was against the tree, and yet six subsequent witnesses, including the forensic pathologist, were unanimous in stating that it was lying flat on its back.

So who moved it? Between the time Dr Kelly's body was reported as being against the tree and the time it was reported lying on its back, DC Graham Coe professed to be standing guarding the body for about half an hour. The left trouser leg was pulled up exposing an ankle, suggesting the body was pulled down and away from the tree to a lying position. Had D C Coe been cross-examined, a reasonable question might have been: did you move Dr Kelly's body? If he did move the body -- why? Was he trying to revive him? Or was he trying to make the position of the body fit the fact that the vomit dried onto his face ran from the corners of his mouth to his ears, and also that livor mortis (pooling of the blood after death)showed (according to the forensic pathologist) that Dr Kelly died on his back?

Why would Dr Kelly commit suicide?

David Kelly was, as Gilligan says, largely defined by his work. He may have felt lost without it. But all the indications are that in one form or another, his work would have continued. The e-mails on the morning of his final walk, repeated again and again that he was looking forward to getting back to his ‘real work’ in Iraq. A date had been set for his return. Even if one of his final phone calls had been to tell him that trip was off, he still had the option of giving speeches and writing books in retirement - and had been in discussions with an Oxford publisher. With a number of good friends, his Baha'i faith, and his daughter Rachel's wedding on the horizon later that year, his future life was far from bleak.

Doubts Remain

Did this tough-minded scientist, a man 'whose brain could boil water' really choose a blunt old pruning knife from several in his study drawer, cut deep into his wrist through the toughest of tendons, and sever one tiny artery, in the hope that this and a handful of pills would somehow take his life? Not being likely does not make it impossible, no - but likelihoods sometimes tell a story. It is not for Andrew Gilligan to waft away significant and well-reasoned doubts.

Now deprived of a voice, the facts must speak for him. Dr Kelly used a forensic and precise approach to keep the world safe from the horrors of bioweapons. The same rigorous approach must apply to the details of his death. It has to be known, once and for all, whether Dr Kelly took his own life - or had it taken from him. To remove all doubt, we need what the Hutton Inquiry did not supply: a full set of forensic results and a rigorous cross-examination of relevant witnesses. Like every other citizen whose death cannot be properly explained, Dr Kelly needs an inquest - and as yet, he has not received one.


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