Monday, April 23, 2012

Attorney General challenged by Andrew Watt

Dr Andrew Watt has today published the covering letter relating to his Section
13(1)(b) of the Coroners Act 1988 application to the Attorney General asking him to seek from the High Court an Order that an inquest be held into the death of Dr David Kelly.

This is now the third Section 13 application concerning the death of Dr Kelly to have been made. The first was by Norman Baker MP in September 2008, the second by Dr C. Stephen Frost and others in September 2010. Dr David Halpin applied for permission to bring judicial review proceedings against this last decision in September 2011, his application was subsequently rejected.

The text of this covering letter is as follows:

20th April 2012

Dominic Grieve QC MP
Attorney General’s Office
20 Victoria Street

Dear Mr Grieve,

Enclosed with this letter is hard copy of the 18 page Application dated 18th April 2012 to the UK Attorney General in terms of Section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988, seeking that the Attorney General apply to the High Court to seek an Order that an inquest be held into the death of Dr. David Kelly.

Briefly, the document shows that the body of Dr. David Kelly was in one position at 09.15 on 18th July 2003. An hour or so later it was in a different position. The evidence indicates that the body was moved by person or persons unknown.

It seems to me that any rational consideration of this important matter, in all the circumstances, must lead an honest Attorney General to acknowledge that an inquest might return a different verdict.

Such an assessment would lead to an application to the High Court seeking an Order that an inquest be held into the suspicious death of Dr. Kelly.

You are aware that I have been severely critical of your handling of the Section 13 application initially lodged by Dr. Stephen Frost and colleagues.

I view your consideration of Dr. Frost’s Section 13 application as having been deficient and dishonest.

Those causes for concern were obvious to me during your statement to the House of Commons on 9th June 2011.

On 12th June 2011 I invited you to resign as Attorney General.

I again suggest that you consider your position.

Given the serious implications for your political and legal career it occurs to me that you may wish to “tough it out”.

In that eventuality, it is my considered opinion that, given what I believe to be the biased and dishonest assessment you carried out in response to Dr. Frost’s Application, it is highly questionable whether you can fairly conduct an independent review of this present Application in the manner which an honest Attorney General has a duty to do in the public interest.

You may also wish carefully to consider the implications for your credibility as Attorney General of your concealing the serious questions put to you by me on 13th May 2011 about the veracity of ACC Page at the Hutton Inquiry. Serious questions which you concealed from the House of Commons on 9th June 2011.

Mr. Brian Spencer, co-applicant, is writing to you separately to give you signed confirmation that the Application is in our joint names.

In the first instance, I would be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this letter and its attachment.

I look forward with interest to learning how you propose to proceed.

Yours sincerely

(Dr) Andrew Watt


Dr Frost has now published the full text of Andrew Watt's application to the Attorney General:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Suicide riddle of weapons expert who worked with David Kelly: Scientist tells wife he is going for a walk, then takes his life in a field... just like his friend
  • Body of Dr Richard Holmes discovered in a field four miles from the Porton Down defence establishment
  • Police said there were no suspicious circumstances in latest case but revealed scientist was 'under a great deal of stress'
  • He resigned from Porton Down last month, but it is unclear why
By Nick Constable and Ian Gallagher

PUBLISHED: 22:58, 21 April 2012 | UPDATED: 22:58, 21 April 2012

A weapons expert who worked with Dr David Kelly at the Government’s secret chemical warfare laboratory has been found dead in an apparent suicide.

In circumstances strongly reminiscent of Dr Kelly’s own mysterious death nine years ago, the body of Dr Richard Holmes was discovered in a field four miles from the Porton Down defence establishment in Wiltshire. It is not yet known how he died.

Mr Holmes, 48, had gone missing two days earlier after telling his wife he was going out for a walk – just as Dr Kelly did before he was found dead at an Oxfordshire beauty spot in July 2003.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances in the latest case but revealed that Dr Holmes had ‘recently been under a great deal of stress’.

He resigned from Porton Down last month, although the centre yesterday refused to explain why. Inevitably, the parallels between the two cases will arouse the suspicions of conspiracy theorists.

Despite Lord Hutton’s ruling eight years ago that Dr Kelly committed suicide, many people – among them a group of doctors – believe his inquiry was insufficient and have demanded a full inquest.

Some believe Dr Kelly, who kept an office at Porton Down right up until his death, was murdered. He was outed as being the source of a BBC report that Downing Street ‘sexed up’ evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to justify going to war.

Although it is not clear if the two scientists were close, one source told The Mail on Sunday that they were friendly when they worked at Porton Down in the Nineties.

At the time, Dr Holmes ran a project organising the installation of chemical protection equipment in RAF Sentinel spy planes, while Dr Kelly was head of microbiology and frequently toured the former Soviet Union as a weapons inspector.

After the first Gulf War, Dr Holmes is also thought to have worked on the production of chemical protection suits for troops. In 1991 he was the joint author of a scientific paper about an RAF chemical and biological protection system.

Yesterday, a Porton Down spokesman confirmed Dr Holmes had quit his job but declined to comment further. ‘It is not our policy to speak openly about any individual who works for us,’ she said.

Before finding his body, Wiltshire Police made a public appeal for information but warned people not to approach Dr Holmes for their own safety because they believed he had been ‘looking at information on the internet regarding self-harm and the use of toxic substances’.

Friends of Dr Holmes say this disclosure irritated his family, who questioned why a scientist engaged in chemical warfare research would ‘need to Google toxic substances’.

Dr Holmes’s widow, Susan, is a chemist who also works at Porton Down as head of business administration.

One of the Government’s most sensitive and secretive military facilities, the site has long been the focus of controversy.

Three years ago hundreds of ex-servicemen who were used as chemical warfare guinea pigs there between 1939 and 1989 were given compensation and an apology from the Ministry of Defence.

They were tested with the nerve agent sarin, but some of those involved claimed they had been told they were taking part in cold-remedy trials.

Many suffered serious illnesses after exposure to the gas, which was developed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

An inquest into Dr Holmes’s death was opened and adjourned by Wiltshire Coroner David Ridley last week. Coroner’s officer Paul Tranter said Dr Holmes’s family had grown concerned for his wellbeing after he failed to return from a walk on April 11.

A search party involving police and members of the other emergency services began combing waste ground close to his home in the Bishopsdown area of Salisbury.

Police discovered his body half a mile away in a field used regularly by dog-walkers and joggers in the village of Laverstock.

Mr Tranter said the results of tests carried out to establish the cause of death would not be known for several weeks. He added: ‘Police do not consider this death to be suspicious in any way, nor do they believe there was any third-party involvement.’

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Renewed call for inquest

Doctors renew call for Kelly inquest

Published on Saturday 21 April 2012 00:03

DOCTORS campaigning for a fresh inquiry into the death of scientist David Kelly have submitted a new application calling for Attorney General Dominic Grieve to ask the High Court to order an inquest.

Mr Grieve rejected calls for an inquest last June, following a lengthy review of the case of Dr Kelly, whose body was found in 2003, shortly after he was identified as the source of a report about the government’s dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The attorney general found there was no possibility that an inquest would reach a different conclusion from the Hutton Inquiry, which found in 2004 that Dr Kelly committed suicide.

But Dr Andrew Watt and Brian Spencer argue that Mr Grieve relied on a “misleading and inadequate assessment” of evidence that Dr Kelly’s body may have been moved in the hour after its initial discovery by volunteer searchers.

(N.B. Dr Andrew Watt has recently opened a new blog entitled "Who Killed David Kelly". It can be found here, and relates to his provisional attempt at writing a book of the same name.)