David Kelly’s death: BBC newsreader, Kate Silverton’s Freudian slip

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    22nd October 2010

    The reports into Kelly’s death have just been published on the Ministry of Justice website.

    There are two pdf files – the post mortem examination report and the toxicology report. (Thanks to The Guardian live coverage of the reports’ release)

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    I believe it was Kate Silverton who, reading the headlines at 1:00pm today on the BBC lunchtime news said something to the effect – “The papers released today show that David Kelly did NOT (her emphasis of voice – then her correction) … did commit suicide.”

    I realise it’s possible that the newsreader was sort of pre-reading incorrectly “did not kill himself”, and got a little distracted by the facts. But since this was the first headline uttered, you’d think she might have got it right first time.

    But perhaps this er … Freudian slip tells us something about BBC bias. After all, DO remember that it was a then BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan who outed David Kelly as the source of the WMD story, AND it was two senior BBC heads that rolled after the Hutton Report. The Hutton Report which today is exonerated.

    [Kate Silverton – apologies if the newsreader was A N Other. I only caught some of it.]

    Aftermath of publication of Hutton Report (2003)

    It was because of the report’s criticism of his actions that Gavyn Davies resigned on the day of publication, 28 January. Reporters from rival news organisation ITN described the day of publication as “one of the worst in the BBC’s history”. Greg Dyke resigned two days after the publication of the report, following a meeting of BBC Governors where it is reported he only retained the support of one third of the board. However, after announcing his resignation, Dyke stated:

    I do not necessarily accept the findings of Lord Hutton.[6]

    Andrew Gilligan resigned because of his part in the affair on 30 January, making three BBC resignations in three days. However, in his resignation statement he questioned the value of Hutton’s report:

    This report casts a chill over all journalism, not just the BBC’s. It seeks to hold reporters, with all the difficulties they face, to a standard that it does not appear to demand of, for instance, Government dossiers.[5]

    Blair, who had been repeatedly under fire for the “sexing-up” allegations, told the House of Commons in the debate following the release of the report that he had been completely exonerated. He demanded a retraction from those who had accused him of lying to the House, particularly Michael Howard, the Leader of the Opposition:

    The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.[7]

    Howard sidestepped the demand for an apology. However, immediately after the Board of Governors had accepted Dyke’s resignation Lord Ryder, as Acting Chairman of the BBC (Davies’s replacement), apologised “unreservedly” for errors made during the Dr David Kelly affair. Dyke, who has not given the conclusions of the Hutton report his full backing, said that he “could not quite work out” what the BBC was apologising for. The Independent subsequently reported that the BBC governors had ignored the advice of BBC lawyers that the Hutton report was “legally flawed”. Although this was denied by the BBC, it was confirmed in 2007 when the BBC was forced to publish minutes of a governors meeting at the BBC that took place directly after the Hutton report.[8]

    The Guardian reports today –

    David Kelly postmortem reveals injuries were self-inflicted

    Government releases previously secret medical files on death of weapons inspector at centre of BBC’s Iraq dossier story

    The death of weapons inspector David Kelly was “typical of self-inflicted injury”, according to previously secret medical documents released today.

    The postmortem report into his death found the main cause was bleeding from a wound to his wrist “entirely consistent with being inflicted with a bladed weapon”.

    The scientist’s body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 after he was identified as the source of a BBC story claiming the government “sexed up” its dossier on Iraq‘s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

    Lord Hutton, who conducted the inquiry into Kelly’s death, found the scientist had committed suicide. However there have been numerous calls for another examination of the case amid persistent conspiracy theories about how Kelly may have died.

    Today’s reports undermine those who have questioned the official version of events, as the conclusions of the postmortem examination by Dr Nicholas Hunt matched those in Hutton’s original report.

    “It is my opinion that the main factor involved in bringing about the death of David Kelly is the bleeding from the incised wounds to his left wrist,” said Hunt. “Had this not occurred he may well not have died at this time. “Furthermore, on the balance of probabilities, it is likely that the ingestion of an excess number of co-proxamol tablets coupled with apparently clinically silent coronary artery disease would both have played a part in bringing about death more certainly and more rapidly than would have otherwise been the case.

    “Therefore I give as the cause of death: 1a. Haemorrhage; 1b Incised wounds to the left wrist; 2. Co-proxamol ingestion and coronary artery atherosclerosis.”

    The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said he had decided to publish the documents “in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the inquiry into how Dr Kelly came by his death”.

    “While I firmly believe that the publication of these documents is in the public interest, I am mindful that the contents may be distressing. I hope that the privacy of Dr Kelly’s family will be respected at this difficult time.”

    Not that it’s finally over for Dr Kelly’s relatives, for Tony Blair and his then government, for the Doctors in pursuit of “truth”, or for the BBC and other conspiracy theorists.  Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General has yet to pronounce on whether or not a full inquest should now be held.


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    One Response to “David Kelly’s death: BBC newsreader, Kate Silverton’s Freudian slip”

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