Norman Baker’s book has been generating some questions. It is very encouraging to see that those using FIRE Project portals read the book reviews and take time to email questions and comments. As the FIRE Project is a volunteer-staffed operation, we have scarce volunteer time available for administration. As a result, we have limited the facilities on our portals for group discussion because of the amount of time required in removing spam and unacceptable offensive postings that have become so common on the Internet. At the present rate of emails, we may end up producing a David Kelly FAQ section but, in the meantime, we will attempt to post comment on BSD and Broadly Risks. For those who wish to email questions and comment, please send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org where we will attempt to respond generically to groups of questions, researching as necessary and posting comment as below:
There are those who are not familiar with the term ‘unlawful killing’ and many inside and outside Britain have become more confused when they learned that the London Metropolitan Police had been found guilty of Health & Safety offences as the result of an unarmed man being held down while police gunmen fired a number of pistol shots into his head from very close range.
When Norman Baker MP began his research into the very strange death of Doctor David Kelly, he started with as open a mind as is possible. The only initial bias appears to have been a suspicion that the death was not suicide. That is a bias only because accidental death did not seem to be a viable alternative and the obvious damage to the body appeared to eliminate the probability of death by natural causes. That only left unlawful death as an alternative to suicide.
As an elected representative, serving in the House of Commons, Baker has a reputation for fairness and integrity, coupled with a determination that Governments must be held accountable for their actions. That he is a Liberal Democrat MP, who voted with his Party against the invasion of Iraq, does not appear to have influenced his approach to the death of David Kelly in any significant way, or at all.
So, What is ‘Unlawful Killing’?
The category of unlawful death does not only mean murder, but covers a number of forms of killing that have no legal justification.
The Met police death squad that executed, in error, the unfortunate Brazilian, at Stockwell Tube Station, would claim that their action was not murder, but it clearly was unlawful, even if, in the most generous assessment, it was retrospectively seen that the victim was not a terrorist, and a man who posed absolutely no threat. In that example, British law does offer several possible ways of judging the level of guilt for the gunmen and their commanders. It has already been judged to be an offence under the Health and Safety legislation. With the coroner yet to reach a judgment, it is entirely possible that a verdict of manslaughter or murder could be produced, and even that individuals may be named as perpetrators, which might then lead to a criminal prosecution where those prosecuted could be found guilty of one of the forms of unlawful killing. In this example it is most unfortunate that an inquest was not held within days of the killing, while a full independent investigation was conducted and a file present to the Crime Prosecution Service. Had that approach been adopted, it would have been possible to dispense justice in a way that could be seen to be fair and swift. In the event, attempts by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, aided and abetted by the Government, to avoid or downgrade any investigation led to the use of the Health and Safety laws which were never originally intended to be used in this way. It may be that the highly unfavourable report of the IPC, following on the heels of the Health and Safety prosecution, and due to be followed by a corner’s report and threat of a possible private prosecution brought by the victim’s family, may yet trigger a full criminal trial brought by the State against individual police officers. Somewhere in that chain of events, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner may yet do the honourable, if belated, thing and resign.
Most legal systems acknowledge there should be categories for killing.
Some systems recognize a crime of passion where the death has resulted from a fit of uncontrolled anger that is considered to be unique to that single human relationship and where the killer is thought most unlikely to kill again. That is not provided in the British system, although it can be argued that judges have some leeway during sentencing and may consider this issue as a form of mitigation, following a verdict of manslaughter or murder.
Most systems accept that there will be killings where the killer is not responsible for his or her actions because of a serious mental disorder. In some cases the killer will stand trial and be found guilty, with the mitigation that he or she was not able to exercise control, and responsibility was consequently reduced. In other cases the killer is considered unfit to plead because the mental condition renders that person incapable of any logical thought. The British system recognizes these possibilities although, as in any similar justice system, the dividing line between mad and bad can be very difficult to call.
Then there are killings where the killer had no deliberate intent, death being due to negligence, rather than as a deliberate act. Beyond those categories that address killings, where the killer either had no deliberate intent, or where temporarily, or for a longer period, the killer was not fully in control of his or her actions, deliberate killing is seen to cover a number of degrees. The British legal system recognizes killers without full, or any, mental control as a result of illness, and it recognizes individual and corporate killing by accident or negligence. It now additionally recognizes killing by shooting as a Health and Safety issue along with worn carpet or unguarded machines in factories.
Manslaughter is a category where the killer is seen to be able to offer some mitigation, although it might also be used by prosecutors where they know that they have weak evidence for a murder trial and the matter can be disposed of if the defendant pleads guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter, in return for a reduced sentence.
That leaves the category of murder and the British system has no method of grading the seriousness of the crime, leaving this to the judge in sentencing, where a sentence tariff offers the judge some latitude. With the removal of the death penalty, a judge has limited scope for dealing with the most awful crimes, such as the cases of serial killers who have concentrated on child victims and killed in particularly cruel and brutal ways. There will be those who regard any killing as the ultimate and most terrible act perpetrated against society and the individual, but there are also those who argue that each case of murder presents its own unique characteristics and that a fair system of justice should be able to recognize these variations in degree and culpability.
In the case of David Kelly, the probability of unlawful killing seems to be overwhelming and Baker presents the available evidence and draws some conclusions. He, as are we all, is seriously hampered because of the bizarre way in which the Blair Brown regime responded to the death. Although the intent was clearly to hide a number of uncomfortable truths and to exploit David Kelly in a war being waged against the BBC by the Blair Brown regime Propaganda Ministry, the result is that it has created fertile ground for conspiracy theories. Baker had to plough through a pile of these in a valiant attempt to produce a fair and well balanced view of the incident.
It is never too late to conduct a thorough investigation and review the resulting evidence effectively in a coroner’s court, a formally constituted judicial review, or in a criminal court. Improved forensic methods are demonstrating regularly that cold cases can be brought back up to courtroom temperature and prosecuted successfully. Until a Government is elected that has the will to follow this path, we are faced with a wealth of inconsistencies.
Baker has done a good job of researching and answering some of these, but has also inevitably introduced some new inconsistencies in the process.
All we know from the publicly available information, and the observations of leading forensics and medical specialists, is that suicide, in the way that it was presented and accepted during the Hutton whitewash, is highly improbable. Baker demonstrates that there was no clear motive for David Kelly to commit suicide and there are many pieces of information that suggest his motivation was so far from that, he is most unlikely to have taken his own life. The range of medical opinions from skilled specialists strongly questions the alleged methods of suicide. These experts point out that even had a strong motive been demonstrated, the methods claimed to have been employed are highly improbable. That leaves the only possibility that a third party was involved in the death. At the very least, this suggests an assisted suicide which is an unlawful killing under current British law, although the Blair Brown regime has been very keen to introduce new laws that would permit third parties to assist in suicide and to terminate life, for example, to assist in reducing the cost of health care. The higher probability from the inconsistencies and available public information is that David Kelly died without co-operating with his killer. Under the same available evidence, it is most probable that the death was murder because it would have required a level of premeditation and actions that it could not be downgraded to manslaughter.
We are now at a point where only a fresh and independent review, followed by whatever action seems appropriate, to clear the matter. The longer that it is allowed to fester, the more theories will emerge, the more confusion will be created and the memory of a dedicated and hardworking public servant will tarnished by the related slurs and innuendoes. Eventually, the confusion will reach the point, already reached in the case of Diana Spencer, former Princess of Wales, where no amount of new evidence or new reviews and trials will satisfy everyone.