LibLink … Norman Baker: Hutton was farcical, feeble and amateurish… so we MUST be told the truth next week

Over at the Mail, Lib Dem MP Norman Baker writes about the imminent appearance of Tony Blair in front of the Chilcot Inquiry into the war in Iraq – and makes a plea for the Hutton Inquiry’s inadequate questioning of how government scientist and former UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly really died. Here’s an excerpt:

… the fact that we, the British people, have had to wait seven long years for justice is a disgrace, and much of the blame can be firmly laid at the door of one man: Lord Brian Hutton. … when Lord Hutton finally reported in January 2004, he astonished the nation by clearing the Government of everything – dodgy dossiers and all – and instead fastened blame firmly on the BBC. If in doubt, shoot the messenger.

Now we learn that evidence which was not presented at the inquiry has been locked away for 70 years – and this inquiry, remember, was to subject Dr David Kelly’s death to public scrutiny. How could Lord Hutton have got it so wrong? The reality is that his inquiry was fixed by Blair and his cohorts to produce the right result. If you put down the tracks, that’s the way the train goes. Hutton was appointed, and his terms of reference agreed, within record time, just hours after Dr Kelly, the Government’s foremost weapons inspector, was found dead on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire. …

You might think that such a high-profile and controversial death would call for an especially rigorous examination. Instead, it was investigated to a lower standard than normal. So, incredibly, Lord Hutton did not, for example, call the police officer who was actually heading the investigation into Dr Kelly’s death, Chief Inspector Alan Young.

Nor did we hear from the scientist’s best friend, Mai Pedersen, who would have been able to tell Lord Hutton that Dr Kelly had damaged his right arm and was incapable of cutting steak, let alone cutting his left wrist. She could also have told him that her friend, who we were invited to believe had swallowed 29 co-proxamol tablets, had an aversion to swallowing medication.

Lord Hutton did not even inquire as to whose fingerprints were on the knife allegedly used to slit Dr Kelly’s wrist. That was left for me to establish through a Freedom of Information request, which revealed there were no fingerprints on the knife, and Dr Kelly was not wearing gloves. Lord Hutton was to confess that he had not bothered looking into the death very deeply. Writing in the Inner Temple Yearbook 2004, he unashamedly observed: ‘I thought that there would be little serious dispute as to the background facts [about Dr Kelly’s death].

‘I thought unnecessary time could be taken up by cross-examination on matters which were not directly relevant.’

So key questions went unasked, conflicting and contradictory evidence abounded, and no attempt was made to tie up the countless loose ends. …

If we are to draw a line under the events of 2003, Chilcot needs to acknowledge that Lord Hutton was as useless in dealing with Dr Kelly’s death as he was with weapons of mass destruction, if not more so. He should accept Dr Kelly is entitled to the inquest he never had, and recommend that one should now take place.

You can read Norman’s article in full here.

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