The death of Dr David Kelly
“Having written the biography of David Kelly”, writes Robert Lewis, “I have found out many new secrets, but have finally let go of the conspiracy theories.” Ten years ago, Dr David Kelly Britain’s foremost authority on biological weapons, and perhaps Britain’s leading expert on Iraqi WMD, was found dead in an Oxfordshire wood, apparently as a result of suicide. Yet his sudden death met with no inquest and no evidence was heard under oath. Not surprisingly, there have been enduring conspiracy theories about his death ever since.
In a Guardian piece accompanying the publication of his book, Lewis writes that
Kelly had been the only member of the Whitehall monolith to tell a journalist what hundreds of his fellow civil servants knew full well: that Downing Street’s argument for invading Iraq was founded on deliberate dishonesty. In a haunting final email, he complained he was beset by “dark actors, playing games”, and hours later he was dead.
The Hutton inquiry, in its brazenly pro-government account of Kelly’s death, did nothing to assuage our distrust, and so for a while I too joined that disaffected legion of disbelievers who spent their nights trawling chat rooms and internet forums. There were a lot of us about. Conspiracy theories were inevitable.
Lewis says that researching Kelly’s life led him to abandon the conventional portrayal of Kelly as an innocent professional who got himself mixed up in the ideological and bureaucratic battle within the government to ‘justify’ the attack on Iraq.
The man I discovered,” Lewis writes, “was not a meek civil servant but a deliberate, hard-edged expert who never once departed from the official line he was given… I don’t think Kelly ever gave an unauthorised interview in his entire life. Jones believed his post-Kuwait briefings were intended to manage public expectations after the invasion, and to make sure it was the government, not British intelligence, which got the blame for confecting claims about Iraqi WMD. But the political fallout was cataclysmic. Downing Street went on an unprecedented offensive, and Kelly found rattled senior spooks were turning against him.”
This resulted in a withdrawal of his top-secret security clearance and — as I understand Lewis’s argument — it was this event (and the prospect of counter-intelligence examination of his and his family’s lives) that led Kelly to take his own life.
The Comments under Lewis’s article suggest that his book won’t kill the conspiracy theories. I suspect that it won’t. Here’s a sample:
To recap- Strong circumstantial evidence; and interference with the body suggests foul play, but somehow this researcher draws the conclusion this was a straight suicide?
After Prism is it really that far-fetched to assume a portion of writers, journalists and academics are now moonlighting as ghosts?
The intelligence agencies are so ideologically entrenched that even when the story of the century breaks (they are literally wire-tapping the entire earth) few can muster any indignation. It is because we know Dr. Kelly was killed that we are so quiet, just as we already knew that they were listening to our emails and phone calls.
The last refuge for those who oppose the cartoon narratives of power seems to be either the Radical left or that broad-tent of paranoiacs around Alex Jones.
To the barricades comrades. To the barricades.