When Brian Hutton commenced his inquiry into “the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly” it was heralded as a paradigm of government openness. That sounds hard to believe given how it turned out, but more than a few people praised it for the light it shone on government and military processes. It revealed a great deal of David’s personal life too. It rifled through his emails and phone bills and shared whatever information it thought pertinent with the public.
All this openness was highly selective, of course. There was a great deal Hutton chose not to share or examine, and in doing so he obscured the true pressures that were acting on Kelly that fateful day. This sleight-of-hand was partly what allowed him to pronounce not only that Kelly committed suicide (a conclusion that I too share, although with far less certainty) but also that his suicide had nothing to do with the Iraq War but was instead brought about by his intense shame in having been caught out talking to journalists off-the-record without permission. That evidence which the Inquiry had not selected, but which it could not reasonably withhold, such as the testimony of David Broucher (who appeared at his own insistence), Hutton traduced or ignored. But nevertheless, the Hutton Inquiry website was a fantastic resource for any researcher or historian, and it contained a great deal of primary documentation, however selective it might be, available for download as PDFs. Alas, it is no more.
I tried to access it today for the first time in two years and found that the domain now belongs to one Alistair Maylum of Faversham, Kent, who (it appears) buys and sells domain names. The government has jettisoned the lot. The transcripts and the PDFs are no longer there. Instead any visitors are confronted with a generic web template for a personal injury solicitors. I mean look at it. However fake Hutton’s openness, this is a sadder and more cynical development still. The website could not possibly have been axed for reasons of cost, its costs were trifling. It was something else, incompetence or censorship or both.
My biography of Kelly, Dark Actors, came out in July 2013. Within four months the website I had used extensively to research it was offline. Many of its footnotes and citations now point nowhere. So trust not in the cloud, and always download whatever you can, because the cloud sees all, and what may be there one day may not be there the next.
(Thankfully the transcripts are still mirrored here, as for the documentary evidence, I have no idea if a comprehensive mirror exists anywhere.)
POSTSCRIPT: All is not lost! Peter Beswick has very helpfully pointed out that the whole Hutton site (as far as I can see) is currently mirrored in the National Archives web archive. Thank god for that. For the link to the mirror, see his comment below. My despondency was somewhat misplaced.