Sunday, March 11, 2012

TVP joined Kelly campaign FB group

Police 'hacked website' of David Kelly campaign group, claim activists

By Miles Goslett And Abul Taher

01:23, 11 March 2012 UPDATED: 01:23, 11 March 2012

A police force has been accused of illegally accessing information from a Facebook group that is campaigning for an inquest into the death of weapons inspector Dr David Kelly.

At a tribunal next month, Thames Valley Police, which conducted the original investigation into Dr Kelly's death, will be forced to explain how it obtained information from the private site.

Activists claim the force hacked into the Facebook page of a group called 'Dr David Kelly and related matters of international importance'.

The force has denied the claim and said the information was taken from publicly available sources.

Thames Valley Police is said to have accessed the page to find evidence to support its decision to refuse a Freedom of Information request by one of the group's members, Peter Beswick.

The evidence was sent to the Information Commissioner's Office, the appeals body for all refused FOI requests.

The ICO upheld Thames Valley's decision, but in its judgment mentioned the Facebook page, and even quoted a posting made by Mr Beswick which was obtained by police.

Mr Beswick and other members of the group believe the information was accessed improperly, and will demand an explanation at the tribunal, where they will appeal against the ICO's decision.

The allegation comes as the Metropolitan Police is conducting a high-profile investigation into allegations that journalists hacked into private voicemails and email accounts.

Mr Beswick made his original request to Thames Valley Police last August, asking a series of questions about Dr Kelly, who was found dead in woods near his home in Oxfordshire in 2003.

No full inquest has ever been held because the then Labour government ruled that the Hutton Inquiry into his death was sufficient.

Thames Valley refused to answer Mr Beswick's FOI questions on its original investigation into Dr Kelly's death. It said his request was 'vexatious' and would be 'too expensive and time-consuming'.

Mr Beswick appealed to the ICO, which last month sent him a 16-page document upholding Thames Valley's decision.

But the document says Thames Valley alerted the ICO to the existence of the Facebook page called 'Dr David Kelly and related matters of international importance'.

It then quoted a line from the page – made by Mr Beswick under his alias Hampshire Hog – which reads: 'The Information Commissioner is currently making a decision into whether or not my FOI request regarding the position of DK's [David Kelly] body to TVP [Thames Valley Police] was vexatious.'

The group claims Thames Valley could have read this line only by illegally accessing the Facebook page.

The force said it had not accessed the page but had found the quote in a similar Facebook page called 'Re-open the Inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly'.

But a search by Mr Beswick has failed to find any evidence of the quote anywhere else on Facebook.

And in an email to Mr Beswick, ICO officer Jonathan Slee states: 'In relation to the Facebook group – which I did note was a closed group – my understanding is that TVP have joined this group in order to access the material it provided as part of its submissions.'

Links to the Facebook groups concerned (log-in required):



Thursday, March 01, 2012

Oxfordshire Coroner - 'never under political pressure'

Retiring coroner speaks out over David Kelly 'conspiracy'

By Debbie Waite

Monday 27th February 2012

CORONER Nicholas Gardiner last night promised he was no political stooge over the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly.

In an exclusive interview to mark his retirement, Mr Gardiner spoke for the first time about his controversial decision not to hold a full inquest into Dr Kelly’s death near his home in Southmoor.
Dr Kelly had been ‘outed’ as the source discrediting the Government’s claims over Iraq’s weapons capability and his death sparked myriad conspiracy theories.

Mr Gardiner’s decision following Lord Hutton’s inquiry was seen by some as further evidence of a cover-up.

Just last December the High Court refused a bid to order the Attorney General into re-opening the inquest and now Mr Gardiner revealed : “I was never under any political pressure.”

Mr Gardiner added: “Whatever conspiracy theories people bring forward – and I think they will be brought forward forever – I don’t think I would have done anything differently.

“My duty is to determine whether there are exceptional reasons that warrant an inquest and if I thought there had been, I would have.

“The Government was always very proper.”

There have been between 50,000 and 60,000 deaths since Mr Gardiner took over the role of Coroner from his father Thomas in 1981.

Of those, around 9,000 – 300 a year – have resulted in inquests. But the Dr Kelly case undoubtedly remains the most famous.

The 69-year-old, who will retire as Oxfordshire Coroner in April, said: “When I received a telephone call that day from Detective Superintendent Young telling me they had found the body, my heart hit my boots.”

Just before his death, Dr Kelly had been exposed as the source of a BBC news report questioning the grounds for war in Iraq.

But while a post mortem examination revealed his wrist had been slashed, some – including qualified doctors – questioned whether Dr Kelly had taken his own life. And the rumour mill went into overdrive.

Mr Gardiner opened the inquest into Dr Kelly’s death on July 21, 2003, three days after his body was discovered in woods at Harrowdown Hill, close to his home in Southmoor.

Prime Minister Tony Blair then commissioned the Hutton Inquiry which concluded Dr Kelly, 59, died from blood loss after cutting his wrist with a gardening knife.

But conspiracy theories continued, along with calls for an official inquest.

On March 16, 2004, Mr Gardiner announced that, after considering the Hutton report, there was “no exceptional reason” for the inquest to be resumed.

Asked whether he thinks Dr Kelly will ever receive an inquest, Mr Gardiner said: “While I think it is unlikely there will be one, you can never rule it out. I did and still do have tremendous sympathy for the poor man’s family.”