Troubling: Dr David Kelly
The death of Dr David Kelly still worries many thoughtful people. It is easy to see why. Dr Kelly’s concerns about the Government’s case for war in Iraq began a storm of controversy at a very inconvenient moment for Downing Street.
They stirred up the wrath of New Labour’s vengeful and ruthless propaganda machine.
These events led to a sort of show trial of a public servant with a fine reputation and a long record of diligence and competence – who, paradoxically, shared the Government’s concerns about Saddam Hussein.
But there was never any satisfactory conclusion to this process.
Dr Kelly never felt able to speak fully in his own defence. His close family, as is their right, have always preferred to stay silent about his feelings and about what pressures may have been placed upon him in his final days.
His violent death therefore deprives us of essential information about one of the most important political and military controversies of our age.
This would be troubling under any circumstances. But it is made far more perplexing by the cloud of doubt which surrounds the event itself. No proper inquest was ever held, itself an extraordinary circumstance.
And in the absence of a proper, open examination of his death under English law, that cloud of doubt grows and grows.
It may well be that all was exactly as we have been told, and that his death was a simple suicide.
Indeed, many of the circumstances make that a reasonable conclusion.
But with each independent account of the discovery of the scientist’s body, new questions are raised. The apparent absence of blood at the scene has always been a concern, since Lord Hutton’s report concluded that he had died from loss of blood.
Now, thanks to the recollections of Detective Constable Graham Coe, it is an even greater concern.
DC Coe is an experienced police officer who has been present at the aftermath of many deaths. The fact that he confirms the view of previous witnesses – that very little blood was visible at the scene – is a significant new development and strengthens the case for an inquest to be held.
The new Government should listen to that case, and so end the damaging uncertainty about how and why Dr Kelly came to die.