you consider only the bare facts of the Kelly case and disregard
the wild presumptions of the media, it is pretty clear in which
direction they point.
email to a journalist only hours before his death, with its
chilling warning of ‘dark actors playing dark games’,
is clearly indicative not of suicide but of murder, and reveals
that Kelly was well aware of the danger he was in.
media interpreted ‘dark actors playing dark games’ as
alluding to the threat of depriving the man of his pension or
some other punitive measure. This ought to strike us as odd,
since ‘dark’ is quite inappropriate as a term to describe
disciplinary action, no matter how harsh; it is a term used to
denote something that is evil and covert, and it is barely
conceivable that the articulate Dr Kelly, whose use of language
was so semantically precise, would have used these words in so
careless a manner.
strange is the stark fact that, despite the paucity of
evidence to support the hypothesis that Kelly had taken his
own life, no one suggested it might be anything other than
suicide. Right from the start and without exception all of
the press and broadcast media implied – even when it did not
explicitly state - that Kelly had been so stressed by recent
events that he had killed himself. No one pointed out the
blindingly obvious: that if you are in fear of your life,
you are quite naturally going to be…er…well, stressed.
And no one
ventured to suggest that Kelly might – just possibly - have been
murdered. That in itself is curious considering the media’s
usual appetite for sensationalism. Make no mistake about it,
murder and intrigue make good copy! But most extraordinary of
all is that even before details of how he had died had been
released by the police, the media was doing its best to plant in
the public’s mind the idea that Kelly had committed suicide!
Here’s the BBC, for instance. At 19.54 hrs on 18 July after a
body ‘matching the description of Dr David Kelly’ had
been found but before police had released details of the manner
in which he had died, the BBC News website updated a report
which ended with the following quotation from an MP:
“He is not used to the media glare, he is not used to the
spotlight he has been put under.”
It’s a standard technique in manipulative or ‘persuasive’
journalism: the quotation from a figure of authority
strategically placed at the end of a piece, ensuring that the
reader is left with the intended impression - in this case that
Kelly couldn’t handle the stress of being in the public eye and
therefore had probably killed himself.
This is what SKY News had to say after Kelly went missing:
“The disappearance of Kelly has raised concern over the way
he was treated by MPs…We ask you… [the public]… to say if you
think Dr Kelly was put under too much pressure.”
Note how even at this early stage, viewers are being invited to
focus their mind on suicide. They are not being asked to say
whether they think Dr Kelly knew too much for his own good, or
whether there were people who might want to get rid of Kelly.
Here’s SKY quoting the Prime Minister, again before the police
had released details of slashed wrists:
“Dr Kelly’s death…is an absolutely terrible tragedy…”
Note the use of the word ‘tragedy’: it is a perfectly apt term
to describe a suicide, but quite inappropriate to use in the
context of a possible murder.
Alistair Campbell (b.
Here’s what the Edinburgh Evening News had to say on 18 July.
This issue went to press after the body had been found but
before there was any information released on how Kelly had died.
“Whitehall insiders said the possible suicide of Kelly would
Of course, it’s only possible suicide – but why not possible
And this is the Guardian (18 July), even before Kelly’s body had
been found, doing its best to imply that Kelly had committed
“[Recent events] would put personal pressure on him…the man
has been treated in a way that is absolutely inexcusable”.
..[and in another report in the same issue]… “Andrew
Gilligan will be feeling worried, frightened and pretty sickened
by the news that…Dr Kelly may have taken his own life”.
When in due course a post-mortem report declared the cause of
death to be ‘haemorrhaging from a wound to the left wrist’,
nobody acknowledged that evidence for suicide and evidence for