Sad to say Dominic Grieve’s decision not to hold a further inquest into the death of David Kelly is the right one. A very detailed letter from Lord Hutton, to the Attorney General and published on the Attorney General Office’s website this week seems to be clinching evidence that a new inquest would not reveal anything that we do not know already. You can find it by scrolling through the reports on this link http://bit.ly/mfQPPo. He seems to make quite a convincing case that Dr Kelly’s death was investigated to a higher standard than happens at a normal coroner’s inquest. Also as I said earlier the quality of the expertise of the investigators could not have been higher, even if the press at the time ignored what had been released as the issue was dominated by Andrew Gilligan’s reports over the Iraq War.
By publishing the pathologist’s report last October to my mind had already laid to rest some of the more ludicrous conspiracy theories, including one by the present transport minister, Norman Baker.
As I wrote at the time(October 23, 2010)
The pathologist’s report into the death of Dr David Kelly, the scientist at the centre of the row over whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, should finally lay to rest conspiracy theorists’ views that he was murdered by the security services.
The report provides harrowing detail of the self-inflicted wounds he sustained and no evidence whatsoever that he had been attacked or fought off attackers.
Unfortunately the failure to publish the report by Lord Hutton’s investigation in 2004 and the decision to keep it secret for 70 years fuelled conspiracy theories that it was a gigantic cover up.
Yet careful examination of the evidence given by Roy Green, a forensic biologist and crime scene specialist, to the Hutton Inquiry on 3 September 2003 – it is still on the inquiry website- will show that many of the details in the pathologist’s report today were made public at the time.( http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans29.htm)
It would also be extraordinary that Lord Hutton and the inquiry secretary Lee Hughes, who forced the PM’s aggressive press secretary, Alistair Campbell, to release his private diaries and the intelligence agencies to publish internal Whitehall minutes should be suborned by the government to suppress evidence of a murder. The Hutton inquiry, whatever one feels about its findings, was one of the most open and transparent investigations ever held – and its secretary, is an unsung hero in Whitehall in pressing for a freedom of information act.
The explanation is much more mundane – Lord Hutton wanted to safeguard the privacy of Kelly’s family – but even he knew at the time that his request could be overruled because of the Freedom of Information Act.
The real scandal is not the conspiracy to cover up a murder but the fact that it has distracted everyone from the appalling behaviour of Tony Blair’s administration in using every means possible to silence journalists and investigators from finding out the truth about the government’s lies over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and their threat to Britain.
Number Ten effectively used the naming of David Kelly to browbeat the BBC and blacken the reputation of Andrew Gillighan, a journalist trying to get to the bottom of the facts, and then were horrified when Kelly took his life.
But as someone who has to deal with moles, some can take a lot of shock and awe but others have to be treated with kid gloves, because their consciences tell them the public should know the facts but they are terrified of being exposed.
Kelly, from his performance before MPs, was obviously in the latter group and the fact that he was about to be exposed for lying to MPs that he had talked to another journalist, Susan Watts, was enough for him to kill himself.
The security services did not need to murder Kelly – even if they had wanted to do so, which is highly unlikely – he became sadly another tragic victim of the Iraq War because he couldn’t take the strain of being exposed to such a massive media circus.
The real tragedy is that we have wasted six years going up a blind alley which might be great sport for conspirators, but we have let the people who drove this decent man to his death, escape any retribution for their actions and for not telling the people the truth. Hutton’s conclusion in this respect left them off the hook. I would be surprised whether the Chilcot inquiry – which has been far less open about releasing documents does any better.
This blog was first published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website. For lots of responses see that site.