Was David Kelly really murdered by a foreign hit squad?

19 December 2004
The Express on Sunday
Tim Shipman

Startling claim by US security lawyer raises more questions over death of controversial weapons expert

NEW evidence suggests that Dr David Kelly, the weapons expert who sparked a government crisis over the Iraq war, was murdered - possibly by a foreign hit squad.

A security lawyer with links to the intelligence agencies made the claims in the US, but they have never been published in Britain.

They add new layers of mystery and unanswered questions about Dr Kelly's death just a week after two ambulance workers who attended the body said he could not possibly have killed himself in the way that the Hutton Inquiry found earlier this year.

Michael Shrimpton, who has briefed the powerful US Senate Intelligence Committee on national security issues, claimed in a radio interview that senior MI5 and MI6 officers were "furious" that Dr Kelly had been killed.

His body was found in woods near his home in the Oxford village of Southmoor on July 18 last year, a day after he disappeared.

But today the Sunday Express lays out the inconsistencies in the evidence that are casting a dark shadow over the conclusion that he committed suicide. He had been outed as the source of a BBC story claiming the Government had "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq.

Speaking in February this year, Mr Shrimpton said Dr Kelly was mostlikely murdered by a team of assassins from the French DGSE security service and his body dressed up to look like a suicide. Sources told him word had been circulating in Whitehall a week before his death that Dr Kelly was going to be "taken down".

A guest of the US State Department and a contributor to the Journal for International Security Affairs, Mr Shrimpton's credentials give his claims some credibility.

He told Texas radio DJ Alex James: "Within 48 hours of the murder I was contacted by a British intelligence officer who told me he'd been murdered."

The officer pinned the blame on rogue elements in Whitehall using a foreign secret service - a common tactic for assassinations.

But he insisted that neither MI5 nor MI6 were involved. "My sources are telling me that both services are extremely unhappy, " said Mr Shrimpton.

And he was unable to name any ministers who may have been involved in the decision - though he was sure that Tony Blair was not behind it. He claims the French agency may have used Iraqi intelligence assets to cover their tracks.

"The standard French practice when they carry out assassinations is to take their own team out. I am very doubtful that any of the people involved directly in the assassination of David Kelly are still alive, " he added.

All of which sounds fanciful. And it may be. But doubts about the manner of Dr Kelly's death are not just held by Mr Shrimpton.

The ambulance crew who were among the first to see Dr Kelly's body believe that if he had committed suicide by slitting his wrist after taking painkillers, he would have been surrounded by pools of blood. The lack of blood has given rise to a suspicion that his body was moved.

Officially his body was found in a copse, in a wood, but the forensic tents were set up in the adjacent field. One witness described the body leaning against a tree, another that it was lying on the floor near a tree.

The Hutton Report into the affair ruled that Dr Kelly died by "bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist". But several respected doctors are on record doubting that analysis.

Among those who wrote with their doubts to coroner Nicholas Gardiner was former trauma and orthopaedic medicine consultant Dr David Halpin.

Mr Shrimpton outlined doubts about the slash marks on Dr Kelly's left wrist. "The artery that was cut was the ulnar artery, which is more difficult to reach. It's on the little finger side of the hand, " he said. "It's deeper than the radial artery. Why go for an artery deep in the wrist when you can slit an artery much closer to the surface of the skin?

"The second problem - according to the autopsy report he severed or transected the artery. But once you transect an artery, we have something called vaso-constriction. The artery retracts and that promotes clotting. It's very difficult to bleed out if you sever one artery only."

Most people who commit suicide this way slash both wrists along the artery and keep them in warm water to stop blood clots.

THERE are also doubts about the painkillers found in Dr Kelly's pockets. The amount of Co-Proxamol in his blood was less than a third of what is normally considered a fatal amount. Out of the 29 tablets missing from the bottle, only one-fifth of a tablet was found in his stomach.

All of which leads Mr Shrimpton to conclude: "The suicide theory just doesn't hold water at all."

Other inconsistencies include claims that Dr Kelly was carrying a bottle of water, which would have helped him digest the painkillers, but no reports from the scene mention the bottle.

Some are dissatisfied with abrasions on his head, which were dismissed by the Hutton inquiry as consistent with lying in the undergrowth. But critics say they could be evidence of a struggle - an explanation explicitly dismissed by the Home Office pathologist.

Questions also arise over a police operation called Operation Mason, which began an hour before Dr Kelly set out on his last walk. The file's contents are a closely-guarded secret to be seen only by those with "a strictly need-to -know requirement".

Conspiracy theorists on the internet have also focused on the testimony of one Detective Constable Graham Coe at the Hutton inquiry.

He said he arrived at the scene with one officer - but five witnesses saw him with two. The Thames Valley Police search team leaders, PCs Andrew Franklin and Martyn Sawyer, said they had "no idea" what DC Coe and his companion or companions were doing there.

So if Dr Kelly was killed, how was it done? Mr Shrimpton said: "He was probably murdered by . . .an intravenous injection of Dextropropoxythene and paracetamol, the constituents of CoProxamol, and a muscle relaxant called Succinylcholine."

Succinylcholine leaves no trace.

He claimed the slash to the wrist was done to "disguise the puncture wound" from the injection.

So if Dr Kelly was killed, why was he targeted? Mr Shrimpton believes it was because he had talked to the press and there was a fear of what else he might discuss with journalists.

He was also due to return to Iraq and may have learned fresh information. Dr Kelly himself predicted that he would end up "dead in the woods".

Some conspiracy theorists on the internet even claim that he was on a death list of weapons scientists.

Mr Shrimpton, perhaps fancifully, believes that someone in Whitehall considered Dr Kelly a threat to the survival of the Government and that the French were prepared to co-operate in silencing him because they preferred Mr Blair's pro-European attitude to the alternatives.

Most intriguingly, the Sunday Express has also uncovered details of Dr Kelly's secret links to the bio-warfare programme of South Africa's apartheid regime.

These links - revealed here for the first time - add another layer of mystery to his death.

Shortly after Dr Kelly left his home, he received a telephone call from an MI5 officer to confirm he would be interviewed in the coming days over his role in the apartheid regime's most secret project.

Code-named Project Coast, it was trying to create a genetically engineered weapon to attack only the country's black population and to develop a vaccine to block human fertility in blacks. Dr Kelly had visited the project's headquarters soon after he was appointed in 1972 to be head of the microbiology department at Porton Down, Britain's top-secret biological warfare establishment in Wiltshire.

He met with Project Coast's head, Dr Wouter Basson at his high-security laboratory outside Pretoria. Later, Dr Kelly arranged for Basson to visit Porton Down.

Dr Neils Knobel, a senior scientist with Project Coast, recalled:

"Basson went to Porton Down in 1985. They gave him an entire tour of the place. He saw everything.

He left with manuals. How he got them he never told us".

IT was questions about Basson's visit that MI5 interrogators wanted Dr Kelly to answer. The reasons may lie on the hard drives of the seven laptops that Dr Kelly kept in his study. Shortly before his body was found a team of MI5 officers removed the computers along with all the scores of discs they found in the study. They were never made available to Lord Hutton.

In March, coroner Nicholas Gardiner said there was no need to reopen the inquest.

The Kelly family and Thames Valley police are satisfied with the official version of his death. An increasing number of outsiders are not.

0 Responses to "Was David Kelly really murdered by a foreign hit squad?"

Post a Comment

Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors