David Kelly: woman friend calls for inquiry
American sergeant who worked with Kelly in Iraq joins call for a new investigation into his ‘suicide’
Mai Pederson, the American woman who has been described variously as a spy and a "very close friend" of Dr David Kelly, has joined the call for a new investigation into the death of the British government scientist, on whose weapons inspection team she once worked as an interpreter.
Pederson, a master sergeant in the US Air Force, first met Kelly in 1998. She has always been convinced that he did not commit suicide.
Kelly died in July 2003 after being exposed as the source for a BBC news report which famously questioned the justification for going to war in Iraq the previous March.
The Hutton inquiry concluded that he had committed suicide by slitting his left wrist after taking an overdose of co-proxamol painkillers.
Pederson's intervention comes a week after the Mail on Sunday disclosed that a team of doctors was mounting a legal challenge to the Hutton inquiry's finding.
They say that the wrist wound from a blunt gardening knife could not have caused his death and that the dose of 20 tablets he took was not fatal.
Pederson, a 49-year-old master sergeant in the US Air Force, has denied speculation that she and Kelly were romantically involved. But she was undoubtedly close to him, introduced him to the Baha'i religion - which, incidentally, forbids suicide - and knew things about him which came as a surprise even to his wife, Janice.
She was able to reveal that, because of an elbow injury, Dr Kelly was unable to use his right hand for tasks that required strength. He would therefore have to have been a "contortionist" to have killed himself by slitting his own left wrist. He also abhorred taking pills.
In a letter delivered to Attorney General Baroness Scotland last week, Pederson's lawyer wrote: "Given the absence of a coroner's inquest and the perpetual secrecy surrounding the post-mortem examination, it is painfully obvious that this matter cries out for a formal, independent and complete review. Ms Pederson fully supports and adds her voice to such an effort."
A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said: "We will consider the letter carefully".
Pederson's relationship with Kelly has fuelled considerable speculation since his death. Both of her ex-husbands have described her as a military intelligence spy whose speciality was befriending or seducing male targets.
One of her exes, Jim Pederson, said she was "always a spook of one kind or another". He once described his wife's modus operandi like this: "She goes to interrogate someone and she's tiny and beautiful, and she flirts with them, and just sits down and chats. Before they know it they've told her all sorts of stuff."
He also claimed that her spycraft training would have included how to make murder look like suicide. ·
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