well as increasing over time, the concentration of a drug is
site-dependent, higher in some locations and lower in others.
The forensic toxicologist has no way of knowing from which part
of the cadaver the blood was taken; thus whatever the
measurement, it will be of questionable value. In addition,
because of biochemical individuality, the amount of a drug
causing death in one person may not cause death in another.
Prompted by the KIG doctors' comments on the toxicology, and
concerned about miscarriages of justice arising from misleading
assessments on the amount of drug ingested, Professor Forrest
set up the 'International Toxicology Advisory Group'.
article to the BMJ entitled
'Forensic Science in the Dock' the four authors assert:
‘Post-mortem measurements of drug concentration in blood have
scant meaning.... The paucity of evidence-based science, coupled
with the pretence that such science exists in regard to
postmortem toxicology, leads to the abuse of process, almost
certainly to miscarriages of justice, and possibly even to false
perceptions of conspiracy and cover up.'
the case of Dr Kelly, it may also have led to the false
perception that forensic science confirmed suicide, when in
fact, it is completely unable to do so.
two paramedics attending Dr Kelly's body were so disturbed by
the absence of blood at the scene that they called a press
conference. Far from finding blood 'puddled around' as one of
the policemen asserted, they saw little blood anywhere - a
little dried blood on the wrist, a contact stain on one of the
trouser knees, and not much else.
have died of haemorrhage, Dr Kelly would have to have lost
several pints of blood. Perhaps, writes Gilligan, the blood
seeped into the ground. But where is the evidence that it seeped
into the ground? Were soil samples taken? Did tests done on the
soil show a large quantity of blood had seeped into the ground?
Was it measured? We were never told. The Hutton barristers did
not even put the question. Nor were we told the residual blood
volume in Dr Kelly's body. If he had bled out, tests at autopsy
would have made it apparent.
any case, one of the fundamental points put by eminent surgeons
- two of them specialists in vascular surgery - is that a single
transected ulnar artery of matchstick size would have
constricted and retracted almost immediately, and the blood
would have clotted. In their view it would be unlikely that Dr
Kelly would have lost more than around a pint of blood.
Atherosclerosis, discovered at the post-mortem, would have made
very little difference to blood flow. Haemorrhage then, is
highly unlikely to have been - as stated on the death
certificate and at the Hutton Inquiry - the primary cause of
What disturbed the paramedics was not so much the lack of
blood per se, as the way the blood was distributed. A pint of
blood spurting from an artery will still make a huge mess. As
Vanessa Hunt explained:
'If you manage to cut a wrist and catch an artery you would get
a spraying of blood, regardless of whether it's an accident...
Because of the nature of an arterial cut, you get a pumping
action. I would certainly expect a lot more blood on his
clothing, on his shirt.
was ‘arterial rain’ on the nettles - so why virtually none on
his clothing? Under the circumstances he is hardly likely to
have worried about keeping his shirt clean. Could it be that a
third party held out Dr Kelly's left arm and slashed his wrist -
thus spraying blood on the nettles but not on his clothes? It is
support of this possibility, let us focus on Dr Kelly's injury.
We are told a deep incision was made into his left wrist,
severing the ulnar artery. Those who choose to commit suicide by
slashing their wrists, normally slash both and sit in a warm
bath. To slash only one out in the open air seems odd. The most
successful method is to cut longitudinally along the arm, but
when transected, the most common artery slashed is the radial
because it is close to the suface. The ulnar lies beneath
tendons deep within the wrist on the little finger side; even
with a very sharp blade it is difficult to reach. Now which is
more likely: Dr Kelly picks up his blunt pruning knife, the one
he normally uses to cut branches on his walks, and avoiding the
radial artery completely, forces it down through tendons into a
tiny artery and slices it right through -- or an assassin with
military training, picks up his left arm, uses Kelly's knife,
and brutally slices down and across one side of his wrist?
Photographs of Dr Kelly's body show it was moved
Gilligan writes of 'confusion' about body position and
fallibility of eye-witnesses. But there is no doubt. Dr Kelly's
body was moved. We know that, not from eye-witness accounts, but
from photographs. Photographs show the body in at least two
different positions. In
Chapter 5 of his report, Lord Hutton refers to a photograph
which shows Dr Kelly's body slumped against the tree, and yet PC
Martyn Sawyer, charged with taking official police photographs,
stated to the Hutton Inquiry that Dr Kelly's body was lying
horizontally on its back, away from the tree. The
two search volunteers who discovered the body, were quite
sure it was against the tree, and yet six subsequent witnesses,
forensic pathologist, were unanimous in stating that it was
lying flat on its back.
who moved it? Between the time Dr Kelly's body was reported as
being against the tree and the time it was reported lying on its
DC Graham Coe professed to be standing guarding the body for
about half an hour. The left trouser leg was pulled up exposing
an ankle, suggesting the body was pulled down and away from the
tree to a lying position. Had D C Coe been cross-examined, a
reasonable question might have been: did you move Dr Kelly's
body? If he did move the body -- why? Was he trying to
revive him? Or was he trying to make the position of the body
fit the fact that the vomit dried onto his face ran from the
corners of his mouth to his ears, and also that livor mortis
(pooling of the blood after death) showed (according to the
forensic pathologist) that Dr Kelly died on his back?
Why would Dr Kelly commit suicide?
Kelly was, as Gilligan says, largely defined by his work. He may
have felt lost without it. But all the indications are that in
one form or another, his work would have continued. The
e-mails on the morning of his final walk, repeated again and
again that he was looking forward to getting back to his ‘real
work’ in Iraq. A date had been set for his return. Even if one
of his final phone calls had been to tell him that trip was off,
he still had the option of giving speeches and writing books in
retirement - and had been in discussions with an Oxford
publisher. With a number of good friends, his Baha'i faith, and
his daughter Rachel's wedding on the horizon later that year,
his future life was far from bleak.
this tough-minded scientist, a man 'whose brain could boil
water' really choose a blunt old pruning knife from several in
his study drawer, cut deep into his wrist through the toughest
of tendons, and sever one tiny artery, in the hope that this and
a handful of pills would somehow take his life? Not being likely
does not make it impossible, no - but likelihoods sometimes tell
a story. It is not for Andrew Gilligan to waft away significant
and well-reasoned doubts.
deprived of a voice, the facts must speak for him. Dr Kelly used
a forensic and precise approach to keep the world safe from the
horrors of bioweapons. The same rigorous approach must apply to
the details of his death. It has to be known, once and for all,
whether Dr Kelly took his own life - or had it taken from him.
To remove all doubt, we need what the Hutton Inquiry did not
supply: a full set of forensic results and a rigorous
cross-examination of relevant witnesses. Like every other
citizen whose death cannot be properly explained, Dr Kelly needs
an inquest - and as yet, he has not received one.
Correspondence with author
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