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by Jim Rarey
Medium Rare
February 1, 2004

Some may wonder why an American writer would choose a purely British colloquialism as the title of his article. There simply could not be found a better description of Lord Hutton's manipulation, distortion and omission of evidence in his report on the death of world-class microbiologist David Kelly. But Hutton may have outsmarted himself by providing information that will prove Kelly's body was moved at least twice before police and forensic investigators saw it.

Come with us as we follow Hutton's tortuous path trying to discount the testimony of Louise Holmes (and Paul Chapman), the volunteers who found Kelly's body. Numbers enclosed in parentheses are references to items in Chapter 5 of the Hutton report where Hutton comments and (very) selectively presents testimony from published transcripts of testimony at his hearings and/or excerpts from witness statements and reports that are not available to the public.

In (130) Hutton correctly characterizes Louise Holmes testimony saying, "She saw the body of a man at the base of the tree with his head and shoulders slumped back against it." (Keep this in mind because it becomes crucial in two aspects of where Kelly died.)

The two volunteers started down a path on Harrowdown Hill (where the body was found) to meet police who were being dispatched from Thames Valley Police (TVP) headquarters after being notified by Chapman over his mobile phone. On the way they met three uniformed police (not the ones being dispatched). Chapman took one of them, DC Coe back to where the body was. In (131) Hutton comments, "Mr. Chapman showed Detective Constable Coe the body lying on its back." Already, Hutton has moved the body to its back. Chapman had testified at his hearing that the body was "sitting up against a tree."

All subsequent witnesses at the hearings (including DC Coe) said the body was lying on its back (but not in contact with the tree). In item (151) Hutton tries to finesse a reconciliation of these contradictory descriptions of the position of the body. He comments: "In the evidence which I heard from those who saw Dr Kelly's body in the wood there were differences as to points of detail, such as the number of police officers at the scene and whether they were all in uniform, the amount of blood at the scene, and whether the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. I have seen a photograph of Dr Kelly's body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree (emphasis added) - therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. These differences do not cause me to doubt that no third party was involved in Dr Kelly's death."

The photograph, to which Hutton refers, has never been seen by the public or media. Hutton is very careful not to say the back was on the ground (there is a reason) and neglects to say the shoulders, as well as the head, were slumped against the tree. This photograph could only have been taken by one of the volunteers who found the body and could be the "smoking gun" that unravels the whole suicide charade.

Hutton, in (131) skips very lightly over the activities and testimony of the two Police Constables (Franklin and Sawyer) dispatched from TVP headquarters in Abingdon who arrived about a half hour after Chapman's call with the two paramedics (Vanessa Hunt and David Bartlett) in tow. Although not included in Hutton's report, all four testified Kelly's body was lying on its back. Both Hunt and Bartlett said the feet were facing towards them. PC Sawyer said the body was "lying on its back with its head at the base of a tree."

But most significantly, and also not disclosed in the report, is the fact that PC Sawyer took several photographs with his digital camera before, during and after the paramedics attended to the body. When Hutton and Sawyer at one of the hearings discussed the photographs, Hutton's only interest was whether or not the photos showed Kelly's shirt buttoned or unbuttoned!

A simple comparison of Sawyer's photographs with the one Hutton referenced should prove whether his rationalization of the differences in testimony is valid or if the head and shoulders were against the tree as Holmes testified. If the photographs show different positions of the body, the implications are obvious. Kelly's body was moved during the half-hour interval before the two constables and paramedics arrived. It may be necessary for all the pictures to be subpoenaed for that comparison to be made.

There is another reason Hutton has gone to such pains to make it appear the body was found laying on its back. Not discussed in the report is the portion of the testimony of Dr. Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, where he discloses discoloration on the back of the body (called hypostasis, livor mortis, or post-mortem lividity) indicates Dr. Kelly died while on his back. Hunt also says the body was found on its back. Of course Hunt did not arrive on the scene at Harrowdown Hill until about noon, a good three and a half hours after the body was found so he has no first-hand knowledge of the position in which the body was discovered. The discoloration appears on the lowest parts of the body after the heart stops pumping blood.

This is a further complication for Hutton in that if the body was found with its head and shoulders against the tree, that means it was moved to the tree after he had died and the blood had settled to the back and where Kelly died has not been established.

But where Kelly died is not the only thing in question. Dr. Hunt assigned the primary cause of the death as bleeding caused by self-inflicted knife injuries to the left wrist. He said one artery (the ulnar) had been completely cut through while the artery usually cut in suicide attempts, the radial (which is much easier to reach), had not been touched.

Several medical experts have come forward to challenge that finding. In a letter released to the media, three medical professionals, Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon David Halpin, Dr. Stephen Frost in Sweden who is a specialist in diagnostic radiology, and a retired anaethesiologist in South Africa, maintained that a completely severed artery would almost immediately retract and limit the bleeding while promoting clotting. They said they dispute that Dr. Kelly could have died from the bleeding.

Support came for that position Wednesday from Dr. Don MacKenchnie who is head of accident and emergency at Rochdale infirmary and chair of the British Medical Association's accident and emergency medicine committee.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph yesterday, Dr. A. Peter Fletcher of Halstead, Essex (a retired pathologist) derided Hunt's finding based on the blood evidence described in the hearings. He said about five pints of blood would have to have been lost to cause death. "Anybody who has seen five pints of blood spurted forcefully out of a severed artery will know that there is one hell of a mess." He concludes that, "Either Kelly did not die of blood loss or it occurred at some place distant from where the body was found."

Fletcher closed by remarking, "A coroner has the power of subpoena, witnesses give testimony under oath and a jury is usually involved. Lord Hutton was denied these requirements for his inquiry."

Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner has said he will make a decision after a legally required 28-day period, whether to reopen the inquest that was cut short by appointment of the Hutton Inquiry. As this writer said in an earlier open letter to the public and media (published before the Hutton report was released) if Gardiner does not resume the inquest, color him part of the cover-up.

Past Medium Rare articles back to October 2001 are archived at:

Posted: February 3, 2004


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