Monday, 6 September 2010

Simon Hoggart and Dr David Kelly

"Dr David Kelly's wrists were slit and he had swallowed 29 co-proxamol tablets. No wonder he died." These are the opening words of a piece written by Simon Hoggart in the Guardian last month. I understand that Mr Hoggart writes political sketches for that newspaper and it's quite possible he is good at that. Like Aaranovitch, Mangold and Rentoul he is firmly in the "Kelly committed suicide" camp. And as with them Hoggart can't even get basic facts right about the Kelly business.

In that first sentence of his Hoggart states two things as fact: the first of these is incorrect and the second not proven. I'll elaborate: he says "Dr David Kelly's wrists were slit". For your information Mr Hoggart it was one artery (the ulnar) severed in one wrist (the left). So wrist not wrists. He uses the word in the plural again further down and of course using "were" rather than "was" confirms he meant the plural.

The next "fact" from Hoggart is that "he had swallowed 29 co-proxamol tablets". Mr Hoggart nobody, but nobody, has ever proved that David Kelly swallowed 29 of these tablets. We do know that part of a tablet was found in his stomach and there was evidence of the constituents of co-proxamol in his body. That does not prove that all 29 were swallowed, willingly or unwillingly, by Dr Kelly. Maybe the powers of logic have by-passed you but I can assure you that the medical knowledge out there cannot definitively equate what was found in his body with the 29 missing tablets. Moreover it seems that Dr Kelly had a rare physical condition that made it all but impossible to swallow a tablet let alone 29 of them. But of course Mr Hoggart, in sounding off about Dr Kelly's death, I don't suppose you have bothered to look at any background evidence.

Another bit of information for you Mr Hoggart: Dr Kelly's friend and confidante Mai Pederson is on record as saying that Kelly had a weakness in his right arm that made even cutting steak difficult. So here is the scenario: Dr Kelly takes three blister packs of his wife's co-proxamol tablets with him (even though he hates pills and would most likely find it near impossible to swallow them); he also takes with him a blunt gardening knife (hard to believe that there wasn't a newer sharper knife in the kitchen drawer). Arriving at Harrowdown Hill he somehow manages to swallow all 29 tablets missing from the blister packs (well according to you anyway) and then using his weak right arm and blunt knife decides to cut the hard to get at ulnar artery, not the more accessible radial artery please note.

So this eminently intelligent man decides to commit suicide by the most tortuous way possible with no guarantee of success. There were alternatives: at Harrowdown Hill there are many trees from which he could have hung himself. If that idea didn't appeal he could have walked on north a little further to the banks of the River Thames and thrown himself face down into it. Even if there was only three feet of water it would be quite enough to drown in. And that part of the river is away from human habitation.

Another point for you Mr Hoggart, the last person that we know of who spoke to Dr Kelly was a near neighbour who he knew well. If Dr Kelly was intent on committing suicide one might expect him either to avoid speaking to her, or at most, say "hello". But according to her testimony at the Hutton Inquiry it was he who spoke first saying "hello Ruth", then they chatted for several minutes and she recalled that he wasn't any different to his usual self. Is this really the behaviour of a man intent on killing himself?

Can I make a suggestion Mr Hoggart? Please stick to political sketch writing, that's more your forte I suspect.

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