Monday, August 23, 2010

The Wrong Question

Starting to take note of what's in the UK media again, in readiness for re-entry into things political. We're back in the House of Commons two weeks tomorrow. And the story that's caught my eye today has been the re-emergence of the suicide of Dr David Kelly, the scientist who was thought to have leaked sensitive information to the BBC during the build-up to the Iraq War. But the reports are about the wrong aspect of the issue. I suspect that Tony Blair will be quite pleased with today's coverage, which seems to be about whether Dr Kelly committed suicide or was murdered.

Well yes, if there is some doubt about how this quiet family man died, there ought to be an inquiry, but its not the biggest question relating to his death. There's never been any reason to think that Dr Kelly did not commit suicide - but there's been plenty of speculation about the direct role that the then Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair played in the release of his name to the press pack and to the Committee of MPs who tore this rather shy man to shreds. This is far and away the most likely cause of death. Over the last few days, I've read Andrew Rawnsley's book, The End of the Party, which has catapulted this question back into my mind. I do not think we should ever forget the 'dodgy dossier' or the vile way Dr Kelly's name was made public. We should not forget when our Government behaves disgracefully. It helps to stop such things happening again.


Ex-CH guy said...

There seems to be a flood of contradictions. For example, what role, if any, "Tony Blair played in the release of his name to the press pack and to the Committee of MPs who tore this rather shy man to shreds."

His name was going to be known regardless since his appearance before the "Committee of MPs" was not in camera.

As to Dr. Kelly being a "shy man" - hey, he was UK's expert on WMDs - so this makes no sense. His appearance was no more disturbing than anyone facing 'cross' on the witness stand.

Dr. Kelly played with the big dogs - so I don't see the connection/rational between him being allegedly 'shy' and him later being found dead.

To my mind there are some missing facts or background. Did someone tell Dr. Kelly that his government pension was in jeopardy or that he might face an internal investigation that might put his pension in jeopardy? These kinds of things might be the missing ‘rational’ – under such pressure he might have thought it better he was dead than his wife and dependents face a life without a decent future income. Dead and his wife would get it. Alive and maybe he could lose it – or he might think he could lose it. Didn’t Dr. Shipman commit suicide to ensure his wife got his pension? The CEO of Enron had a massive heart attack – tragic for his loved ones, but he died before he went to trial, which had certain benefits for his family.

Dr. Kelly must have been a deeply calculating man – his training would force his mind to think logically. If he really thought his pension (and by default his family’s financial future) was at risk, then maybe he weighed that up in his mind and committed suicide. As bad as it looked his family would have a good income for years to come. I am inclined to think that was the kind of 'logic' running through his mind. As you say Glyn, Dr. Kelly was a "quiet family man" - and maybe he made the decision for his family's sake.

Perhaps he did speak to the press when he was not authorized to do so and feared investigation and possible loss of his pension. My understanding though is that Dr. Kelly believed the then leader of Iraq did harbor WMDs, particularly biological WMDs and was hiding them. Saddam certainly retained the capability to quickly manufacturing both chemical and biological weapons. He had made then before (not his personally, but his scientists/chemical engineers did) and ‘he’ retained that know-how; specifically, nerve and biological agents. His people knew, for example, how to make blistering agents, nerve gas, and ultrafine anthrax spores, and had mastered the technique of aerial delivery of chemical nerve agents.

Glyn Davies said...

Its probably true that David Kelly's name would have emerged in time. When he spoke with Andrew Gilligan, he was entering a pool full of crocodiles. Despite this, I do not think its acceptable that our Prime Minister and his former Director of Communications should be orchestrating a devious way of making his name public, simply to save their own skins - if that is what actually happened. For what its worth, I thought the behaviour of the investigating MPs was shameful. At least one of them behaved like a playground bully, rather than a forensic questioner. Like a lot of other people, I just do not believe we have had a full genuine inquiry into Dr Kelly's death (suicide).