Wednesday 21 July 2004

Operation Mason & The Kelly Group

British journalists ask: Was acclaimed Iraqi WMD scientist murdered?

It has been several months since Lord Hutton concluded Britain's most respected microbiologist, Dr David Kelly, committed suicide. The inquest, held in Room 76 at the Royal Courts of Justice, was meant to uncover the circumstances of his death. In doing so, many observers believed that the verdict would dispel any lingering doubts that there was a more sinister reason behind his death.

The scientist had become inexorably entwined with Iraq's WMD, after he spoke about his concerns to a BBC journalist. The British public watched in amazement as Downing Street and the BBC fought a bitter war of words. In the end, senior BBC staff were forced to resign. Tony Blair suffered a bloody nose, but worst of all, Dr Kelly found the pressure too much and killed himself... or did he?

Few journalists investigating the Kelly case have not shared a beer with persons willing to provide the odd clue or suspicion that would point to murder. Crackpots and conspiracy theorists usually force investigators to make a quick retreat, but when those raising concerns are doctors, lawyers, businessmen and even intelligence officers, journalists listen.

It would require a brave person to dispute the findings of Lord Hutton, but a number have.


Dr Kelly was under immense pressure and genuinely feared for his job, after it was disclosed that he spoke with the BBC and reportedly aired concerns about the accuracy of Britain and America's WMD intelligence.

The public fumed after Dr Kelly was subjected to more than hostile questioning by ministers, for here was a man who clearly had tremendous knowledge of Iraq's WMD. When he was found dead, hostility towards Downing Street and the BBC intensified.

Since then, journalists have once again started to sip beer with locals around Dr Kelly's home and other folk who don't really fall into the crackpot category. Information is being gleaned that could yet be of interest.


On 17 July at 3.30pm, Dr Kelly decided to go for a walk leaving his Southmoor, Oxfordshire home. It was something he did regularly. At 12.20am, his wife, Janice, telephoned Thames Valley Police and told officers she was concerned that David had not returned from his walk. Exactly nine hours later, at 9.20am, a dog called Brock found Dr Kelly's body on Harrowdown Hill, about a mile from the Kellys' home.

Brock belonged to Louise Holmes, a member of the Thames Valley Lowland Search Team. She had joined the search for the scientist at 8.00am, together with her colleague, Paul Chapman.

Louise told the Hutton Inquiry that when she found Dr Kelly, his head and shoulders were slumped against a tree. "His legs were in front of him. His right arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position," she said. Paul Chapman "specifically" recalled Dr Kelly was sitting up.

Louise telephoned Abingdon police about her discover, but moments later, as the couple walked back towards their vehicle, three plain-clothed police officers arrived. They said they were "Thames Valley detectives," one officer showed an identity card.

At the Hutton Inquiry, Abingdon police said that they found Dr Kelly's body lying flat on his back. An Evian water bottle, a blood-coated watch and a Sandvig gardening tool, were also recorded at the scene. Interestingly, Louise and Paul never mentioned these items at the Inquiry. Some observers note that the three detectives has been at the scene some thirty minutes before Abingdon police arrived. The rest is, of course, conjecture...


The Kelly Group is made up of a number of eminent British doctors who believe that serious questions are still be answered about the way in which Dr Kelly died. The group has aired its views on radio and television shows and in a series of features in national newspapers. And while not proposing anything sinister, its members say the facts don't fit the evidence.


On of the first medical staff to arrive in the woods was paramedic Vanessa Hunt. She told the Inquiry: "There was a small patch [of blood] on his right, knee, but no arterial bleeding. There was no spraying of the blood or huge blood loss or any obvious loss on his clothing.

Experts contend that to die from haemorrhage, as suffered by Dr Kelly, you would need to lose some 5 pints of blood. Louise commented that there didn't appear to be a great deal of blood around.

This point has concerned a number of doctors. For example, Dr A Peter Fletcher, a medical expert and Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists write: 'Anybody who has seen 5 pints of blood spurted forcefully out of a severed artery will know that there is one hell of a mess. The two searchers, (Louise & Paul) who found the body, did not even notice that Kelly had incised his wrist with a knife.'

The Kelly Group also points out there are inconsistencies about the manner in which Dr Kelly died. Why, for example did he choose such a difficult artery to sever? And why use a blunt knife? One of the UK's most respected vascular surgeons, Martin Birnstingl, said he doubted it was possible for Dr Kelly to die by cutting the ulnar artery on "the little finger side of his inner wrist." He told Britain's Mail on Sunday: "I have never, in my experience, heard of a case where someone has died after cutting their ulnar artery. And I have seen many suicides.

The minute the blood pressure falls, after a few minutes, this artery would stop bleeding. It would spray blood about and make a mess but it would soon cease.

Kelly was in the know. He was a scientist. People normally try to slash the radial artery in their wrist, the one which is used to take a pulse. Or, if they are really intent on death, they cut the artery in their groin."

Experts also believe it would have been almost impossible for Dr Kelly to have made an incision from left to right on his opposite wrist.


The Hutton Inquiry was told that three packets of the painkiller Co-Proxamol was found on Dr Kelly. The sachets held 30 tablets, but only one was recovered. Perhaps it was the consumption of these powerful pills that killed Dr Kelly? Experts are unsure as to what extent the drugs played in his death. It was revealed at the Inquiry, that less than one tablet was found inside his body during the autopsy.

Other unusual incidents also surrounding the death of Dr Kelly. His dental records went missing from his local surgery as news of his suicide broke. Police found an unlocked window in the building. Then, like any good detective mystery, the records turned up again two days later. The incident baffled local police.

Mai Pederson, a close friend of Dr Kelly said he would not have taken his own life. Pederson is a US Army Intelligence officer. It was rumoured that the Ministry of Defence was upset about his contacts with the American.

Dr Kelly died after a situation that he himself helped create, became uncontrollable. Just before he was found dead, he had discussed a book deal with a publisher. This may have been as revealing a work as anything previously written about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. And who can forget Dr Kelly's chilling statement made in February 2003? "If Iraq is attacked, then I might be found dead in the woods..."

There are persons in the intelligence community who believe the cause of death has not been conclusively determined. Dr Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist who examined Dr Kelly said he "Would feel more comfortable is the Inquest was re-opened."

Operation Mason is a Thames Valley Police file. Its contents remain secret.

The Puzzling Bottled Water

Presumably Dr Kelly drank the Evian bottled water as a matter of course during his walks. Some observers believe he took the Co-Proxamol tablets with this water. However, the two witnesses who first discovered Dr Kelly's body said they did not see a water bottle at the scene. At the inquest, Lord Hutton said the police recovered a bottle of water. If the bottle did not belong to Dr Kelly, how did it get there? Some observers believe it could have actually been discarded by the investigating officers.

These exclusive photographs, taken just hours after his death, show that some of the police officers who attended the scene were in fact drinking bottled water. Our pictures, however, show an officer drinking Buxton bottled water.

Three packets of Co-Proxamol tablets were recovered at the scene. Twenty-nine tablets were missing. Dr Kelly had reportedly only consumed one. Why take almost three empty sachets?

Full story...