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Norman Baker and the "Strange Death of David Kelly"


John Simkin
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The death of the weapons inspector Dr David Kelly is considered by many to be "unfinished business". For this book, Norman Baker spent over a year in active research, receiving much new information from many sources. He shows that the Hutton inquiry verdict of suicide is not credible; he has the determination and courage to get to the truth of what really happened. "The Strange Death of David Kelly" looks in fascinating detail at the motives for the unlawful killing of Dr Kelly and the various possibilities of who could have been involved, before concluding with the most likely - but astonishing - scenario, revealed here for the first time. He analyses and criticises the official process after David Kelly's death, and looks into the actions of the UK government, particularly in relation to the Iraq war.

Norman Baker, the MP and the author of "The Strange Death of David Kelly", has agreed to discuss his book on the forum. Please post your questions here:

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Guest David Guyatt

I'd like to ask two questions.

Firstly, what evidence did you amass that pointed to an explanation other than "suicide" - and assuming that there was evidence that pointed towards foul play who, or what entity, do you believe may be responible.

Secondly, did you ever look at the Police's short duration "Operation Mason" and if so, what was its purpose? I seem to recall that it commenced on the morning of David Kelly's walk to death and curtailed the following morning. It appeared to be a curious operation that has not be fully explained. That, at least, is my memory of it - although I may be mistaken.

Thanks

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(1) My first question concerns the very unfair review your book received in the Guardian. The review is only six paragraphs long. He spends two of these on David Chidgey’s question to David Kelly when he appeared before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He attacks you for “passing over this” in your book, implying the reason for this is that Chidgey is a Liberal Democrat MP.

After this poor attempt to discredit you he finishes the review with the absurd statement: “There is no evidence supporting the many theories that Kelly was murdered and plenty of evidence supporting the conclusion that he was driven to suicide”. How could he say such a thing after reading your book?

Despite it being a “liberal” newspaper the Guardian has a long record of being hostile to “conspiracy theories”. For example, over the past few years they have given good reviews to anti-conspiracy television programmes yet ridicule or ignore books or programmes that imply that the intelligence services have been involved in illegal acts.

Do you know why the Guardian takes this approach to political conspiracies?

(2) In chapter 18 you consider the possibility that US intelligence might have been involved in Kelly’s death. You point out that in July 2003 Kelly made statements that undermined the case for the invasion of Iraq. You quote Joseph Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame, as saying: “I received several calls from friends wondering, first, whether it had been a suicide; and if not, was I watching my own security? I too wondered about Kelly’s death… I was horrified that I could actually harbour suspicions… that a democratic government might actually do bodily harm to a political opponent.” (page 298) You also refer to Tom Mangold’s claim that members of the CIA were present at the scene of Kelly’s death.

It is clear that the public have difficulty grasping the concept that a democratically elected government would give the go-ahead for a political assassination. It is of course very difficult to obtain evidence that these agents are working on the orders of presidents and prime ministers. In fact, this evidence does not exist because of something called “plausible denial”. It is a bit like Henry II’s role in the death of Thomas Becket. The people responsible soon get the message. At one time the CIA used to carry out its own assassinations. However, since the 1960s they have used contract workers who cannot be traced back to the CIA let alone the president. At first, these assassinations were fairly crude affairs, for example, the failed attempts to kill Castro. This is no longer the case. Therefore the presence of the CIA at the scene of the death suggests that they were not involved in his death.

However, it could be argued, that the killing of Kelly was used as a warning to others who might be considering releasing information that would undermine the invasion of Iraq. This could also explain why the “suicide” of Kelly was so badly done. It would have been possible to have killed Kelly to make it look like a death by natural causes. It is clear to anyone who studies the evidence in this case that Kelly was murdered. Yet, it was not in the interests of Tony Blair that Kelly died. He had already provided the information that undermined the invasion of Iraq. His death only drew more attention to what had been going on and Blair was forced to organize a cover-up of the killing. This was the perfect warning to those who also had damaging information. “We will kill you and we will get away with it”. That is a terrifying message for anyone to receive. It would not surprise me if Peter Watt, Jon Mendelsohn and David Abrahams are not all spending sometime thinking about the death of David Kelly at the moment.

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(1) My first question concerns the very unfair review your book received in the Guardian. The review is only six paragraphs long. He spends two of these on David Chidgey’s question to David Kelly when he appeared before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He attacks you for “passing over this” in your book, implying the reason for this is that Chidgey is a Liberal Democrat MP.

After this poor attempt to discredit you he finishes the review with the absurd statement: “There is no evidence supporting the many theories that Kelly was murdered and plenty of evidence supporting the conclusion that he was driven to suicide”. How could he say such a thing after reading your book?

Despite it being a “liberal” newspaper the Guardian has a long record of being hostile to “conspiracy theories”. For example, over the past few years they have given good reviews to anti-conspiracy television programmes yet ridicule or ignore books or programmes that imply that the intelligence services have been involved in illegal acts.

Do you know why the Guardian takes this approach to political conspiracies?

Yes I agree it was a very unfair review. I would have expected better from Richard Norton-Taylor. I wonder in fact if he HAS read it. Interestingly, I have found the reaction to the book to be dependant on the pre-conceived views people already had. Those who already thought there was something suspicious have been very supportive, and those who didn't have been unremittingly hostile. About the only balanced review has been Nick Rufford in the Sunday Times who, while he didn't agree with my conclusion, acknowledged the work I had done and the holes I had found.

The other broad response feature has been, to my surprise, that what might loosely be called the right-wing press has been much more sympathetic than the left-wing press.

As for the Guardian itself, I don't know. Perhaps you could ask Mr Norton-Taylor.

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(1) My first question concerns the very unfair review your book received in the Guardian. The review is only six paragraphs long. He spends two of these on David Chidgey’s question to David Kelly when he appeared before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He attacks you for “passing over this” in your book, implying the reason for this is that Chidgey is a Liberal Democrat MP.

After this poor attempt to discredit you he finishes the review with the absurd statement: “There is no evidence supporting the many theories that Kelly was murdered and plenty of evidence supporting the conclusion that he was driven to suicide”. How could he say such a thing after reading your book?

Despite it being a “liberal” newspaper the Guardian has a long record of being hostile to “conspiracy theories”. For example, over the past few years they have given good reviews to anti-conspiracy television programmes yet ridicule or ignore books or programmes that imply that the intelligence services have been involved in illegal acts.

Do you know why the Guardian takes this approach to political conspiracies?

(2) In chapter 18 you consider the possibility that US intelligence might have been involved in Kelly’s death. You point out that in July 2003 Kelly made statements that undermined the case for the invasion of Iraq. You quote Joseph Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame, as saying: “I received several calls from friends wondering, first, whether it had been a suicide; and if not, was I watching my own security? I too wondered about Kelly’s death… I was horrified that I could actually harbour suspicions… that a democratic government might actually do bodily harm to a political opponent.” (page 298) You also refer to Tom Mangold’s claim that members of the CIA were present at the scene of Kelly’s death.

It is clear that the public have difficulty grasping the concept that a democratically elected government would give the go-ahead for a political assassination. It is of course very difficult to obtain evidence that these agents are working on the orders of presidents and prime ministers. In fact, this evidence does not exist because of something called “plausible denial”. It is a bit like Henry II’s role in the death of Thomas Becket. The people responsible soon get the message. At one time the CIA used to carry out its own assassinations. However, since the 1960s they have used contract workers who cannot be traced back to the CIA let alone the president. At first, these assassinations were fairly crude affairs, for example, the failed attempts to kill Castro. This is no longer the case. Therefore the presence of the CIA at the scene of the death suggests that they were not involved in his death.

However, it could be argued, that the killing of Kelly was used as a warning to others who might be considering releasing information that would undermine the invasion of Iraq. This could also explain why the “suicide” of Kelly was so badly done. It would have been possible to have killed Kelly to make it look like a death by natural causes. It is clear to anyone who studies the evidence in this case that Kelly was murdered. Yet, it was not in the interests of Tony Blair that Kelly died. He had already provided the information that undermined the invasion of Iraq. His death only drew more attention to what had been going on and Blair was forced to organize a cover-up of the killing. This was the perfect warning to those who also had damaging information. “We will kill you and we will get away with it”. That is a terrifying message for anyone to receive. It would not surprise me if Peter Watt, Jon Mendelsohn and David Abrahams are not all spending sometime thinking about the death of David Kelly at the moment.

I'm not sure whether you've got to the relevant section yet, but I do advance the theory that the killing was badly handled pour encourager les autres, though in the end I don't think it was this, for the reasons I give. I quote Wouter Basson in this context, I think.

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I'd like to ask two questions.

Firstly, what evidence did you amass that pointed to an explanation other than "suicide" - and assuming that there was evidence that pointed towards foul play who, or what entity, do you believe may be responible.

Secondly, did you ever look at the Police's short duration "Operation Mason" and if so, what was its purpose? I seem to recall that it commenced on the morning of David Kelly's walk to death and curtailed the following morning. It appeared to be a curious operation that has not be fully explained. That, at least, is my memory of it - although I may be mistaken.

Thanks

To the first I can only say "read the book". The book is designed to answer precisely those two questions and I cannot really short-circuit the answers here. The second is also answered in the book.

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I'd like to ask two questions.

Firstly, what evidence did you amass that pointed to an explanation other than "suicide" - and assuming that there was evidence that pointed towards foul play who, or what entity, do you believe may be responible.

Secondly, did you ever look at the Police's short duration "Operation Mason" and if so, what was its purpose? I seem to recall that it commenced on the morning of David Kelly's walk to death and curtailed the following morning. It appeared to be a curious operation that has not be fully explained. That, at least, is my memory of it - although I may be mistaken.

Thanks

To the first I can only say "read the book". The book is designed to answer precisely those two questions and I cannot really short-circuit the answers here. The second is also answered in the book.

I think you have proven conclusively that David Kelly was murdered. The medical evidence provided by David Halpin (specialist in trauma and orthopaedic surgery), C Stephen Frost (specialist in diagnostic radiology), Searle Sennett (specialist in anaesthesiology) Andrew Rouse (public health consultant), Peter Fletcher (specialist in pathology), Martin Birnstingl (specialist in vascular surgery), in their letters to the Guardian is pretty conclusive. The evidence that you discovered in October 2007, through the Freedom of Information request that the knife that Kelly allegedly committed suicide with had no fingerprints on it, also adds support for your theory.

I also believe your examination of Kelly’s behaviour on the day he died shows he was not about to commit suicide.

I suppose every person under stress considers the possibility of suicide. It is usually rejected because the person concerned does not want to cause suffering to their loved ones. Committing suicide is always a very selfish act. This is not my view of Kelly. I find it impossible to believe that he would have caused this level of suffering, especially to his wife and daughters.

The problem I have with the case concerns motive. While writing the book you received information suggesting a whole range of different organizations was responsible for Kelly’s death. This includes information that Operation Mason (the investigation into Dr Kelly’s death) began half an hour before Kelly went for his final walk. You conclude from that information that Thames Valley Police was told by someone that there was a plan to assassinate Kelly. You consider the various possibilities of who could have been involved, before concluding with the most likely scenario, that Kelly was murdered by Iraqi agents. I have problems with this theory. If the agents of Saddam Hussein wanted to kill someone, I would have thought they had better and more high-profile targets to go after. Also, why would the UK authorities have been willing to go along with disguising this murder? In my view, Kelly’s death is very much like the assassination of JFK. It is necessary to concentrate on the people who carried out the cover-up. From the telephone tapes of Lyndon Johnson, it seems he organized the cover-up to avoid a nuclear war (Johnson believed the assassination had been carried out by agents working for Fidel Castro.) What motive did the UK government, MI5/MI6, Thames Valley Police, etc. have for covering up the murder of Dr. David Kelly?

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Guest David Guyatt
I'd like to ask two questions.

Firstly, what evidence did you amass that pointed to an explanation other than "suicide" - and assuming that there was evidence that pointed towards foul play who, or what entity, do you believe may be responible.

Secondly, did you ever look at the Police's short duration "Operation Mason" and if so, what was its purpose? I seem to recall that it commenced on the morning of David Kelly's walk to death and curtailed the following morning. It appeared to be a curious operation that has not be fully explained. That, at least, is my memory of it - although I may be mistaken.

Thanks

To the first I can only say "read the book". The book is designed to answer precisely those two questions and I cannot really short-circuit the answers here. The second is also answered in the book.

I think you have proven conclusively that David Kelly was murdered. The medical evidence provided by David Halpin (specialist in trauma and orthopaedic surgery), C Stephen Frost (specialist in diagnostic radiology), Searle Sennett (specialist in anaesthesiology) Andrew Rouse (public health consultant), Peter Fletcher (specialist in pathology), Martin Birnstingl (specialist in vascular surgery), in their letters to the Guardian is pretty conclusive. The evidence that you discovered in October 2007, through the Freedom of Information request that the knife that Kelly allegedly committed suicide with had no fingerprints on it, also adds support for your theory.

I also believe your examination of Kelly’s behaviour on the day he died shows he was not about to commit suicide.

I suppose every person under stress considers the possibility of suicide. It is usually rejected because the person concerned does not want to cause suffering to their loved ones. Committing suicide is always a very selfish act. This is not my view of Kelly. I find it impossible to believe that he would have caused this level of suffering, especially to his wife and daughters.

The problem I have with the case concerns motive. While writing the book you received information suggesting a whole range of different organizations was responsible for Kelly’s death. This includes information that Operation Mason (the investigation into Dr Kelly’s death) began half an hour before Kelly went for his final walk. You conclude from that information that Thames Valley Police was told by someone that there was a plan to assassinate Kelly. You consider the various possibilities of who could have been involved, before concluding with the most likely scenario, that Kelly was murdered by Iraqi agents. I have problems with this theory. If the agents of Saddam Hussein wanted to kill someone, I would have thought they had better and more high-profile targets to go after. Also, why would the UK authorities have been willing to go along with disguising this murder? In my view, Kelly’s death is very much like the assassination of JFK. It is necessary to concentrate on the people who carried out the cover-up. From the telephone tapes of Lyndon Johnson, it seems he organized the cover-up to avoid a nuclear war (Johnson believed the assassination had been carried out by agents working for Fidel Castro.) What motive did the UK government, MI5/MI6, Thames Valley Police, etc. have for covering up the murder of Dr. David Kelly?

I would add the probably unnecessary rider that even if "Iraqi agents" had assassinated Kelly, it need not have been on orders from Saddam but could, just as easily, have been an off-the-books" arrangement commissioned by another sovereign nation that used an arms length deniable team to cover their involvement. The US have - and doubtlessly the UK - had a whole slew of Iraqi's working with them in the run up to the invasion and overthrow of Saddam (I immensely dislike "Regime Change"). Commissioning the intelligence/security apparatus of another nation to undertake black operations is not that unusual.

I also felt that Operation Mason was far more interesting than it has been given credit for. I continue to wonder why, if there was an overseas hit team involved, that monitoring this should come under the jurisdiction of the Thames Valley force? Wouldn't this normally come under the remit of the Security Service? This strikes me as being an exceptional arrangement.

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I think you have proven conclusively that David Kelly was murdered. The medical evidence provided by David Halpin (specialist in trauma and orthopaedic surgery), C Stephen Frost (specialist in diagnostic radiology), Searle Sennett (specialist in anaesthesiology) Andrew Rouse (public health consultant), Peter Fletcher (specialist in pathology), Martin Birnstingl (specialist in vascular surgery), in their letters to the Guardian is pretty conclusive. The evidence that you discovered in October 2007, through the Freedom of Information request that the knife that Kelly allegedly committed suicide with had no fingerprints on it, also adds support for your theory.

I also believe your examination of Kelly’s behaviour on the day he died shows he was not about to commit suicide.

I suppose every person under stress considers the possibility of suicide. It is usually rejected because the person concerned does not want to cause suffering to their loved ones. Committing suicide is always a very selfish act. This is not my view of Kelly. I find it impossible to believe that he would have caused this level of suffering, especially to his wife and daughters.

The problem I have with the case concerns motive. While writing the book you received information suggesting a whole range of different organizations was responsible for Kelly’s death. This includes information that Operation Mason (the investigation into Dr Kelly’s death) began half an hour before Kelly went for his final walk. You conclude from that information that Thames Valley Police was told by someone that there was a plan to assassinate Kelly. You consider the various possibilities of who could have been involved, before concluding with the most likely scenario, that Kelly was murdered by Iraqi agents. I have problems with this theory. If the agents of Saddam Hussein wanted to kill someone, I would have thought they had better and more high-profile targets to go after. Also, why would the UK authorities have been willing to go along with disguising this murder? In my view, Kelly’s death is very much like the assassination of JFK. It is necessary to concentrate on the people who carried out the cover-up. From the telephone tapes of Lyndon Johnson, it seems he organized the cover-up to avoid a nuclear war (Johnson believed the assassination had been carried out by agents working for Fidel Castro.) What motive did the UK government, MI5/MI6, Thames Valley Police, etc. have for covering up the murder of Dr. David Kelly?

Thank you for this.

I agree that proving it was murder is easier than proving who did it. I should point out that I did not in the end conclude that elements backing Saddam were responsible, but rather elements opposing him. Those same elements were responsible for feeding dodgy intelligence to the west and specifically the 45-min claim to the UK government. Those also were key for the US and UK to the post-Saddam Iraq - hence the motive for covering it up. Also, the reason for the start time of Operation Mason was given to me by an informant rather being speculation on my part.

I am sorry if this did not come across well, but I naturally have to be careful about libel, amongst other things.

In the end , of course, my work is no proper substitute for a proper judicial process, which is what I am calling for.

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Guest David Guyatt
I would have expected better from Richard Norton-Taylor. I wonder in fact if he HAS read it.

I hope I will be forgiven for temporarily shifting sands.

Norton-Taylor wrote some excellent articles about the Arms to Iraq affair in the run up to the Scott Report. Once that report had been published and dissected by the press and its well "spun" conclusions had been trumpeted across the land (all this happened on the same day), media reporting ceased entirely. By the following day, and thereafter, there was no further reporting. The Scott Report had been bought hook, line and sinker. Yet when one reads the detail of the voluminous Report there was much "dirty business" revealed there that should have received astonished and considerable coverage. But didn't.

Uncomfortable facts and sensitive activites simply cease to be reported by the men and women of our distinguished media who are well trained in the art of stabilising, rather than rocking the boat of state, on such matters.

This as a personal aside.

Onwards with the suicided Kelly.

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  • 1 year later...
UK weapons inspector who was found dead was writing expose: paper

By John Byrne

Published: July 6, 2009

Updated 1 day ago

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/07/06/uk-...or-dead-expose/

British weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly was writing an expose about his work with anthrax and his warnings that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction at the time of his death in July 2003, according to a report published in a British newspaper.

Kelly’s death — said to have been a suicide — has stirred controversy, as it came on the heels of testimony to the House of Commons about a memo which purported that Britain had “sexed up” a dossier on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. A Parliamentary inquiry ruled that the death had been suicide, though it also included testimony from a former British ambassador who quotes Kelly as having said, “I will probably be found dead in the woods” if Iraq were invaded.

The new report says Kelly had spoken with an Oxford publisher several times about a book.

“He had several discussions with a publisher in Oxford and was seeking advice on how far he could go without breaking the law on secrets,” the UK Daily Express alleged.

Kelly’s computers were seized in the wake of his death. He was a signatory to Britain’s Official Secrets Act, which allows for the prosecution of those who talk to the press about state secrets and prescribes a more stringent framework for secrecy than in the United States.

According to the paper, “he was intending to reveal that he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair there were no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq weeks before the British and American invasion… and was also intending to lift the lid on a potentially bigger scandal, his own secret dealings in germ warfare with the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

The allegations of a potential Kelly expose come from a new film about biological weapons being debuted in London on the sixth anniversary of Kelly’s death titled “Anthrax War” (the documentary aired earlier this year on Canadian public television). Kelly was an expert in biological warfare agents, as well as a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.

‘Anthrax War’

‘‘The deeper you look into the murky world of governments and germ warfare, the more worrying it becomes,” the film’s director, Bob Coen, is quoted as saying. “We have proved there is a black market in anthrax. David Kelly was of particular interest to us because he was a world expert on anthrax and he was involved in some degree with assisting the secret germ warfare program in apartheid South Africa.”

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s summary of the film, Coen “was raised in Zimbabwe where the former white regime has been accused of unleashing anthrax against the black population… [who] embarks on a journey that raises troubling questions about the FBI’s investigation of the 21st century’s first act of biological terrorism.

“Coen’s investigation takes him from the U.S. to the U.K. and from the edge of Siberia to the tip of Africa. In a rare interview, Coen confronts ‘Doctor Death’ Wouter Basson, who headed Project Coast, the South African apartheid-era bio-warfare program,” the network’s website adds. “Project Coast used germ warfare against select targets within the country’s black population.

“Anthrax War also investigates the mysterious deaths of some of the world’s leading anthrax scientists, including Dr. David Kelly, the UK’s top military microbiologist, the Soviet defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, and Dr. Bruce Ivins,” the CBC continues. “The FBI claims - despite the doubts of highly ranked U.S. officials - that Ivins was the only person behind the U.S. anthrax murders.”

A Torrent download of Anthrax War is available at this link. Several shorter clips are also available on YouTube.

This video is from CBC’s Anthrax War.

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