By Brian Brady and Rachel Shields
Published: 21 October 2007
The family of David Kelly, the government weapons expert, last night appealed for him to be allowed to rest in peace as an MP claimed that he was assassinated to stop him revealing more details about the "lies" that took Britain to war in Iraq.
The outspoken Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who has spent four years campaigning for a public investigation into the death of Dr Kelly, claims he has unearthed fresh evidence that raises significant questions over the official verdict that the scientist killed himself by slashing his wrist and taking an overdose of painkillers.
In a book to be published next month, Mr Baker will claim that Dr Kelly, who blew the whistle on the "dodgy" Iraq dossier, was murdered, possibly by anti-Saddam Iraqis who supported the invasion. The "crime" was allegedly covered up by the British authorities.
The MP for Lewes highlighted alleged inconsistencies in evidence surrounding the case, including the disclosure that no fingerprints were found on the knife Dr Kelly used to cut his wrist – and questions about the amount of blood found at the scene.
But details of the latest twist in the Kelly saga provoked an angry reaction from his close relatives last night. Dr Kelly's brother-in-law, Michael Pape, said the family did not want to comment further on a tragedy that was investigated in public during the 10-week Hutton inquiry in 2003.
"It is just raking over old bones," said Mr Pape, who is married to Dr Kelly's sister, Sarah, a plastic surgeon. "I can't speak for the whole family, but I've read it all [Baker's theories], every word, and I don't believe it.
"All that stuff about there only being a small amount of blood found on the ground, it doesn't make sense – blood seeps through soil. Even if there was only a bloodstain the size of a 2p piece on the ground, the rest will have sunk down into the soil. If he'd been found on tarmac, it would have spread all around him."
Mr Baker's claims that he had uncovered new information relating to the Kelly case also received a cool reception from police and fellow politicians who took part in a number of investigations into the circumstances leading up to the scientist's death.
A spokeswoman for the Thames Valley Police, which led the investigation into his death, said the force had no intention of reopening its investigation.
Lord Foulkes, a member of the parliamentary committee that quizzed Dr Kelly shortly before he died, after he had been "outed" as the mole who revealed doubts over the case for war on Iraq, questioned Mr Baker's motivations. He said: "If this came from anyone else, people might be more inclined to believe it. I don't want to castigate Norman, but he is one of the usual suspects when it comes to coming up with conspiracy theories."
Mr Baker said: "The more I examined [the verdict], the more it became clear to me that Hutton's judgment was faulty and suspect in virtually all important respects." His book, The Strange Death of David Kelly, makes a number of claims. He says that no fingerprints were found on the knife allegedly used by the scientist to cut his wrist; that there was " remarkably little" blood at the scene, despite death being officially recorded as due to a severed artery; that only one other person in the UK committed suicide in the same way in 2003; and that the level of painkillers found in Dr Kelly's stomach was "less than a third" of a normal fatal overdose.
His book contains details of meetings with "informants" who, he claims, provided confidential background details of the alleged operation to assassinate Dr Kelly. The MP alleges that opponents of Saddam Hussein feared Dr Kelly would "discredit" them by revealing "misinformation" they had planted to bolster the case for British and American intervention in Iraq.