‘Not much blood’: Dr Kelly detective casts new doubt

Aug 9, 2010
Eliot Sefton

Mystery of Dr Kelly’s death deepens as police officer admits there was a ‘third man’ at the scene

Doubt has been cast once more on the official version of events surrounding the death in 2003 of Dr David Kelly, the scientist who apparently committed suicide a week after he was unmasked as a government whistleblower. It was Kelly who told the Radio 4 journalist Andrew Gilligan that Tony Blair's government had "sexed up" the evidence that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

Now, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, a retired police detective, Graham Coe, who guarded Dr Kelly's body alone for 25 minutes in woodland on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire in July 2003, has said there was "not much blood, if any" at the scene. He has also admitted there was a 'third man' with him and his partner that day – a claim that had previously been dismissed.

The Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr Kelly found that the government scientist had committed suicide by severing the ulnar artery in his wrist with a pruning knife. His body was found a day after he told his wife he was going for a walk.

DC Coe gave evidence to the Hutton inquiry, but many feel he was not questioned in sufficient detail. For example, Dr Kelly's body was found by two volunteer searchers, who said that when they met DC Coe and his partner, DC Shields, there was a third man with them.

At the inquiry, DC Coe said only he and DC Shields were present, a discrepancy that has led to speculation that if there was indeed a third man present, he was an MI5 or MI6 agent. DC Coe has now admitted to the Mail on Sunday there was a third man with them. But he claims he was a trainee police constable who is no longer with the force. He would not reveal the man’s name.

On the lack of blood at the scene - one of the mysteries surrounding the case - DC Coe said at the Hutton inquiry that he saw blood on Dr Kelly’s left wrist. But he was not questioned about the presence or lack of blood anywhere else at the scene.

Now, DC Coe says: !I certainly didn't see a lot of blood anywhere. There was some on his left wrist but it wasn't on his clothes. On the ground, there wasn't much blood about, if any."

His version of events appears to tally with the testimony of Vanessa Hunt, one of two paramedics who attended the scene. After expressing her doubts at the 2003 Hutton inquiry, she said in 2004 that it was "incredibly unlikely that [Dr Kelly] died from the wrist wound we saw".

She added: "There just wasn't a lot of blood. When someone cuts an artery, whether accidentally or intentionally, the blood pumps everywhere."

The paramedics' opinion is backed by various medical experts, including Dr Bill McQuillan, who was a consultant at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, and for 20 years dealt with hundreds of wrist accidents.

"I have never seen one death resulting from cutting an ulnar artery. I can’t see how he would lose more than a pint of blood by cutting the ulnar."

At the Hutton inquiry, the lack of blood was explained by Roy Green, a forensic biologist who attended the scene: he said it had seeped into the ground.

DC Coe's new account of the day Dr Kelly's body was found is just the latest in a series of reports that casts doubt on the validity of the Hutton inquiry’s conclusions.

Last month, a former KGB agent said a man with links to MI5 had told him Dr Kelly was "exterminated" by British secret agents. The previous month, an American friend of Dr Kelly claimed the weapons expert would not have had the strength to cut his own wrist because of an old arm injury.

Sign up for our daily newsletter