David Kelly campaigner Peter Beswick has supplied ten questions for me to answer as regards the Hutton Inquiry. He and I have different opinions about Kelly’s death, and Peter initially suspected I was some sort of SIS plant. I thought this exchange might illustrate why we differ, and could prove helpful for anyone who is interested in the subject. These questions are an abridged version of an earlier comment by Peter which I have held back on until I was able to contact my handlers for further instructions.*
1. What makes you think Hutton covered up Kelly’s relationships with various intelligence services? And what specifically do you think was covered up?
Hutton omits or belittles the truth that Kelly helped British, American and Israeli governments subvert UNSCOM and UNMOVIC. He sees no disinformation in the inspection process or the drive to war. Indeed he closes his eyes to all Western intelligence activity within the inspectorates. The refusal to countenance this aspect closes several lines of inquiry.
2. What specifically do you think the Hutton inquiry covered up regarding the reality of UK’s foreign policy?
That it was illegal, that it was justified by lies, and that it was ruinously destructive towards Iraq. Hutton is not prepared to ascribe to Kelly any kind of posthumous whistleblower’s defence. Ironically, he is right in doing so: Kelly was no whistleblower.
3. What do you believe were the precise nature of the pressures that drove Kelly to kill himself? The ones that Hutton covered up?
I explain in my book that Kelly had been told he had lost his security clearance. As well as exiling him from his professional world, this would also have triggered an investigation into his personal life which threatened to be deliberately invasive. Imagine it as something that looks, in a best-case scenario, like a smear campaign, and in a worst-case scenario, state blackmail.
Further, Kelly was a loyal civil servant, but his masters lay in SIS, not the MOD, and certainly not DSTL. He was still obliged to keep his work for SIS secret, and he did so up until his death. His loyalty towards SIS was an additional pressure.
Kelly also had certain personal obligations towards the Iraqi scientists he had alternately courted and intimidated for over a decade. He had made all kinds of threats and inducements towards them in secret. Concerns over the treatment of these scientists, all now high value detainees in various military prisons, may have contributed to his mental state. Certainly they appear to have bothered his colleague Rod Barton, who spoke to the media of their mistreatment.
4. Where do you think Kelly stayed on the night of 9th July 2003 and why do you think Janice Kelly went along with the elaborate tale of the flight to Weston Super Mare as described?
I think she and David stayed at an SIS safe house much nearer to home, and she went along with the Weston story because like her husband, she was loyal towards the service, and sought to protect it. There are operational and legal reasons why you might not disclose these things in public, particularly if they are immaterial to Kelly’s death.
5. Why do you think Hutton covered up the repositioning of the body after it was found by the search team?
He didn’t cover it up, perhaps the opposite. Without the testimony of witnesses at the Hutton Inquiry, you wouldn’t know the body had been moved at all. But he did ignore it, one assumes because he judged it to be immaterial. He did the same thing about the third man who was accompanying DC Coe, who we can safely assume was an officer of MI5 or MI6. I have little doubt that Kelly’s body was searched by the intelligence services prior to being handed over to Thames Valley Constabulary, and that such privileged access would be routine for someone of Kelly’s importance. Hutton, like Mrs Kelly, glosses over the activities of SIS as much as humanly possible.
6. What is your take on the disappearing / reappearing dental records, why Page misled the inquiry regarding the fingerprints and why they were only replaced after Kelly’s death? Given that they were most probably taken on the night of 9th July.
My take is that it was probably a mistake on the part of the dental surgery and the records were just misfiled. I can’t see why anyone would need dental records; I can’t see why anyone would physically remove the records instead of snap them with a camera; I can’t see why anyone, having stolen the records, would risk discovery twice by sneaking in to replace them. One could ask the dental surgery, of course.
7. What do you make of Gilligans revelations that he was told by journalist Mike Smith that the police were looking for a body. The police knew Kelly was dead before the body was found. And his boss Sambrook was informed painkillers were involved several hours before the blister packs were found in Kelly’s coat pocket by the forensic team?
My memory might have gone, but this is news to me. When did Gilligan say all this, and to whom? He didn’t mention any of this at Hutton. There is a quality of Chinese whispers to it. For now I can only add that, if you worried Kelly had sought to kill himself, it would have been perfectly natural to check the Co-Praxamol packs in the house, and see if any were missing.
8. DC Coe misled the inquiry about who accompanied him to the scene, the position of the body when he said he first saw it, how long he remained at the scene after the ambulance crew arrived and what he did in the two hours that he remained when he said he wasn’t there. He also misled the inquiry about his involvement in the search of Kelly’s home. What do you make of this?
See my answer to question five. The spooks were there first, and Coe was with one of them.
9. Evidence heard at Hutton (supplemented by forensic reports) indicates that 10 times more blood was witnessed on the right knee Dr Kelly jeans in the afternoon than was witnessed in the morning, a similar size stain was witnessed on the left knee but that had been diluted. In the morning the stain was described variously as the size of a 10p, the size of a 50p and 25mm in diameter. In the afternoon the stain was measured by the forensic team as 80mm in diameter, an area increase of more than 10 times. What do you think was going on?
Responding to this off the cuff, it would seem the stain grew a bit by the time it was measured by the forensics team. The body may only have to have been moved very slightly for this to happen. I suppose it is even possible that it might not have to be moved at all, perhaps some very small post-death blood flow from an open would occur during decomposition. The difference in the volume of blood needed to make an 80mm stain as opposed to a 25mm stain is only a few drops. Alternately, the forensics team may have measured the stain on the inside of the fabric, where it would appear bigger.
10. Mai Pederson’s lawyer had supplied the police with a 10 page witness statement 2 weeks before Page took the stand and said she had declined to give a statement. Why do you think that was and do you think her statement would have been useful?
I can tell you that Mai Pederson isn’t in the mood to talk about any of this anymore. Most of the lying at the Inquiry was done to obscure the intervention of MI5 and MI6. If you’re a police officer I am sure it is a requirement of your job that you never reveal your relationships (if any) with either service. But Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page’s comment that Pederson added absolutely nothing to his inquiry is an absolute whopper. I honestly don’t think he knew what was in her ten page report, or what she said at interview. In suppressing this evidence he had no way of knowing she wouldn’t then give an interview to the British media, for example, which is exactly what she did. I can only conjecture that Pederson’s report never found its way into the Thames Valley Investigation, and that she was interviewed by people other than Thames Valley police officers. Probably she was interviewed by MI6, MI5, or Special Branch, who were nominally “helping” out. Nobody from these organisations would owe any obligation to pass on sensitive material to normal constabularies, and it may have been suppressed by them, rather than Page. They would simply lie to him about what was said. It would also express Page’s curious expression that “she declined to give a statement as such”, because intelligence officers wouldn’t be able to take one down.
Pederson’s press interviews reveal that she had a reasonably intimate knowledge of David Kelly. She knew he had an elbow injury, for example. As for his difficulty swallowing pills, I was never able to verify it. Her statement should absolutely have found its way into the Inquiry, even if it pointed in the wrong direction. Pederson, like Norman Baker and Richard Spertzel, is of the opinion he was murdered by Iraqi intelligence. I find this implausible. The capability of Iraqi intelligence in Britain in July 2003 was nil. It was not much better inside Iraq. I don’t understand why they would want to kill Kelly either. The weapons inspectors inside Iraq were much easier targets, and I don’t think any attempt was ever made on any of them, during the inspections or after the war. During the occupation Charles Duelfer was in a Humvee that got hit by an IED, but I don’t know that he was targeted specifically.
One aspect of Pederson’s press interviews, then, is the vilification of Saddam’s Iraq, using Kelly’s death to further the same goal he pursued in his working life. You’ll also notice that few newspapers were able to resist the implication that Pederson and Kelly were sleeping together, even while printing her categorical denial. Tom Mangold has been pushing the idea of a Kelly-Pederson affair for years, but he can’t make the story stand up. These journalists did not arrive at this conclusion on their own. They were led there, and I refer you to my third answer. There were individuals priming to smear Kelly at the time of his death.