While we are on the subject of murder, Carruthers reminded me the other day that we are not strangers to political assassinations here in Merry England. He had been reading a recent book by Liberal MP Norman Baker called "The Strange Death of David Kelly". This was the British weapons inspector who fell foul of both the Bush administration and our own Blair Governement by contadicting them. He expressed doubts that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction and they certainly couldn't launch them in 45 minutes. Two key points that both governements had used to whip up support for the war.
By all accounts a week later, the weapons inspector was found dead in a wood propped up against a tree. His left wrist had been slashed and in his pocket were three blister packs of coproxamol tables. Twenty-nine of the thirty tablets had been removed. A half empty bottle of mineral water lay just within reach. As did a penknife. All seems clear on the face of it. Dr Kelly had sat down against the tree, swallowed the 29 tablets with the water and then used the knife to sever the artery in his wrist. And there he died.
However closer inspection threw up a number of strange anomolies. There are 12 things which are hard to explain:
1. His left wrist had been cut from little finger side to thumb side - a very difficult way to cut your own wrist (try it), but a natural way for someone else to cut your wrist for you.
2. Despite the wrist cut, there was very little blood at the scene. The two people who discovered the body did not even know he had cut his wrist despite the fact that pints of blood should have been everywhere. This suggests he had either been cut elsewhere or was already dead at the time.
3. Although 29 coproxamol tablets were missing, only half a tablet was found in his stomach.
4. There were vomit stains visible on his face but these ran horizontally from the corner of his mouth to his ear giving the impression that he had been lying on his side when he vomited, but here he was upright against a tree, which suggest he had been moved into that position.
5. According to a friend Dr Kelly had an aversion to swallowing tablets.
6. A coproxamol overdose is not a quick death and can take up to 3 days and may include convulsions and liver failure. Dr Kelly as a chemist would have known this.
7. When the body was found rigor mortis had not set in suggesting that he died sometime on Friday morning. In which case where was in in the ten or so hours after leaving his home?
8. Another curious thing. There is a police file on the incident which has not been released. Only the cover page of the file is public and contains the codename and date of the operation: "Operation Mason. Start 2.30pm Thursday 17 July, Finish 9.30am Friday 18 July" The finish time is shortly after Dr Kelly's body was found. However the start time is half an hour before he left his house and well before he was reported missing. How did the police know about the events before they happened?
9. The position of the water bottle was ten inches from Dr Kelly's left shoulder which is curious as he was right handed and he would have found it awkward to place it there. It would be much more natural to have placed it to his right, by his right hand.
10. The amount of water left in the bottle suggested that not much had been used. Certainly not enought to drink down 29 tablets.
11. There were no fingerprints on the water bottle or the knife. Not even Dr Kelly's. And he wasn't wearing gloves.
Of course all this may add up to nothing. It may be just a collection of curious coincidences in the same way that it may be just a coincidence that the timing of his death was less than a week after he had contradicted Bush and Blair and put the proposed war with Iraq in jeopardy by his insistance that there were no weapons of mass destruction and there is no 45 minute deployment. He was one of the few people who knew the real facts.
Oh, but I did say that there were 12 strange and unaccountable things about this death so I owe you one more.
12. A few weeks before, Dr Kelly told a trusted friend that if he goes on like this, he expected to 'end up dead in a wood somewhere'.