"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Closing statements from the counsel for the Kelly family

Here are the key points of Jeremy Gompertz, counsel for the family of David Kelly, as I interpret his closing arguments before the Hutton Inquiry Thursday [transcript page numbers in brackets]:
* "The principal aims of the [Kelly] family in this Inquiry are:
(1) that the duplicity of the Government in their handling of Dr Kelly should be exposed; and
(2) that the systemic failures at the Ministry of Defence should be identified and remedied so as to ensure, as far as is humanly possible, that no-one else should suffer the ordeal endured by Dr Kelly." [0, 1]
* "With the exception of the Walter Mitty slur, the Government and the MoD do not accept that any criticism should be made of any Government action or that any blame should attach to any individual involved in the events leading up to Dr Kelly's death. This should be contrasted with the approach of the BBC in being prepared to make admissions and accept criticism." [1]
* "[W]ere the matter not so serious," the so-called "excellent" support given to Dr. Kelly by the Ministry of Defense would be "risible." [2, 21-4]
* There was a "huge failure" in the manner in which Dr. Kelly's name was released to the public. [2]
* The media needs to "raise its game" (i.e., improve its standards of behavior) regarding people's privacy. [3 - 4]
* Richard Hatfield failed to clearly describe where Dr. Kelly had done anything inappropriate regarding his contacts with the media. [4 - 7]
* For the following 4 reasons, "[Andrew] Gilligan is unreliable and ... no credence should be given to his evidence save where it is corroborated from an independent source." [9]
* "[His] account of the chronology and progress of the [May 22] meeting is irreconcilable with the physical evidence disclosed by expert examination of his Sharp organiser." [9]
* "[H]is account of the meeting, as given in evidence, is in many respects inconsistent." [10]
* "[H]e has lost his manuscript note made after the meeting with Dr Kelly." [10]
* "[He] has proved himself to be an unreliable historian in other respects. For example, the changes in his account of the number of meetings he had with Dr Kelly and when they took place." [10]
* "[T]he Government made a deliberate decision to use Dr Kelly as part of its strategy in its battle with the BBC." [11]
* After Geoff Hoon had already been cross-examined (and therefore, couldn't be recalled to the witness stand), evidence from Alastair Campbell's diary came to light "indicat[ing], with clarity ... that the Secretary of State's [Geoff Hoon] denials of the Government's strategy put to [Dr. Kelly] in cross-examination were false," and therefore hypocritical. [12, 13]
* The behavior described above "was a cynical abuse of power which deserves the strongest possible condemnation." [13]
* Dr Kelly should have been informed about three areas of the process [18 - 20]:
*"[T]he decision to make a press statement and the content of that press statement, together with the timing of its release."
* "[T]he content of the question and answer material."
* "[T]he confirmation of his name to journalists."
* Alastair Campbell himself said that his own appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee was a "gruelling experience. How much more so must it have been for Dr Kelly?" [26]
* Even after "faithfully" serving his country "all his life" and "achiev[ing] great eminence, ... [Dr. Kelly] remained a modest, retiring man who never sought the limelight." [27]
* Despite all this, "[Dr. Kelly] was characterised by his employers to suit their needs of the hour as a middle ranking official and used as a pawn." [27]
* Dr. Kelly "felt betrayed, ... was broken hearted and, ... had shrunk into himself. In his despair he seems to have taken his own life." [27-8]
Despite my own disagreement with the comments about Andrew Gilligan, I think Mr. Gompertz has laid out the case rather clearly.
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