Unsolved Murders

David Kelly

Age: 59

Sex: male

Date: 1 Jul 2003

Place: Harrowdown Hill, Southmoor, Oxfordshire

Source: www.heraldseries.co.uk

David Kelly died mysteriously in a wood in 2003.

He had gone out for a walk from his house and was found dead the next morning in a wood a few miles away.

His wrist was slit with the ulnar artery, a minor vein, being completely severed.

Because of his involvement with matters of national interest, a governemnt report was carried out into his death by a Lord instead of an inquest by a coroner.

A report stated that the 'The orientation and arrangement of the wounds over the left wrist are typical of self-inflicted injury.'. The report also stated that 'There is no positive pathological evidence to indicate that this man has been subjected to a sustained, violent assault prior to his death. There is no evidence from the post-mortem or my observations at the scene to indicate that the deceased had been dragged or otherwise transported to the location at which his body was found.'

He was also noted to have taken an excessive amount of painkillers and apparently had clinically silent coronary artery disease, which together would have brought about his death more certainly and more rapidly than would have otherwise been the case.

The time of his death was given as being between 4.15pm and 1.15am on 18 July 2003.

However, a group of doctors claimed that the reports verdicts were unsafe and campaigned for the inquest into his death to be reopened. They said that the man that had carried out the inquest had only spent half a day out of the 24 days the report took to consider the cause of death and noted that no coroner in the land would have reached a verdict on the evidence that the man had heard.

The doctors also said that the report into his death didn't include certain unanswered questions such as

  • Why there were no finger prints on the knife he was said to have cut his wrists with
  • The fact that his wrist wound would not have been likely to have been life threatening
  • How David Kelly obtained coproxamol painkillers
  • Why his blood contained only a non-toxic dose of coproxamol
  • Why he was not spotted by the helicopter with thermal sensors during their search of the wooded area
  • Whether or not there was grounds for suggesting he had intended to kill himself.

The doctors petitioned the Attorney General to reopen the inquest but in June 2011 their petition was rejected.

The leader of the group of doctors that petitioned for the re-opening of the inquest into David Kelly's death said 'The continuing cover-up of the truth of what happened is a national disgrace and should be of concern to all British citizens.'.

David Kelly was a weapons inspector having worked in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 and was said to have been the source for a BBC report in May 2003 stating that the government had lied when making claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which had claimed that Iraq was capable of deploying weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

Soon after David Kelly gave evidence to an MPs' committee and stated that he did not think that he was the only source for the report. He was found dead in the wood near his home two days later.

A Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament later said that he resigned his position so that he could investigate David Kelly's death and said that he came to the conclusion that David Kelly had been murdered and that it would have been impossible for him to have died from his injuries as the vein that he cut was of matchstick thickness and that when cut across, as had been the case in David Kelly's death, the artery would simply have retracted and stopped bleeding. The ex-MP also said that it would have been unlikely that anyone would target the ulnar artery as it was located deep in the wrist and would have been painful and difficult to get to requiring cutting through nerves and tendons. He added that the suggestion was compounded by the fact that it was said that he had done it with a blunt pruning knife.

David Kelly's death has since become the subject of a major conspiracy theory.

He had worked for the MOD and was an authority on biological warfare and had also been a weapons inspector with the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq. In 2002 he had worked for the Defence Intelligence Staff at the same time that the compilation of the dossier by the Joint Intelligence Committee on the weapons of mass destruction possessed by Iraq was written which was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, he had not written anything in the dossier himself. However, he was asked to proof read certain sections, including the draft on the history of inspections and had said that he was unhappy with the section that said that Iraq was capable of firing battlefield biological and chemical weapons within 45 minutes of an order to use them. However, it was said that superiors said that they had looked the claim up with MI6 through the Joint Intelligence Committee and it was kept.

After the invasion, he went to Iraq to inspect alleged findings of weapons of mass destruction and when he was shown two trailers that were claimed to be mobile germ warfare laboratories he determined that they could not have been mobile germ warfare laboratories and that they were exactly what the Iraqi's had said they were, facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.

After returning from Iraq and finding no weapons of mass destruction David Kelly agreed to speak to a BBC reporter about the dossier and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction had been found. He carried out the interview on the basis that he would not be quoted or revealed as the source. During the interview, the issue of the claim that Iraq could deploy chemical weapons in 45 minutes was brought up and David Kelly stated that he had made it clear when he had proof read the draft dossier that it was dubious claim. The BBC reporter then began reporting the statements which caused a political storm and David Kelly was later revealed as the source of the BBC report and called before the MP’s committee where he was grilled and then two days later subsequently found dead.

On 17 July 2003 David Kelly was at home dealing with his emails. At about 3pm his superior, a Wing Commander, called him and spoke to him for about 6-7 minutes. He later called again at 3.20pm but was told that David Kelly had gone out for his daily walk in the woods which he did every day. It was said then that he took 29 coproxamol tablets and cut his left wrist. His wife reported him missing that night and he was found dead the next morning.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.