That's a question that a Coroner is required by Law to answer with respect to any death.
The Hutton Inquiry's examination of the question was visibly cursory.
Maybe that doesn't matter.
Maybe it matters enormously. If the Harrowdown Hill body wasn't David Kelly's then a very different scenario comes into view.
As always feel free to contact me privately with comments or other questions you'd like to see covered in the book, "Who Killed David Kelly?".
See Who Killed David Kelly? - Contacting me.
Whose body was found at Harrowdown Hill?
In this chapter I want carefully to look at the evidence about whose body was found at Harrowdown Hill.
I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if your first reaction to that is to wonder if I’m taking a step too far towards a weird and wacky conspiracy theory.
I don’t think I am.
One of the key pieces of information that a Coroner has to establish (or try to establish) is who is the person who died.
With a suspicious death that’s obviously particularly important.
With respect to the Harrowdown Hill body, the question is “Was it David Kelly’s body that was found at Harrowdown Hill on 18th July 2003?”.
And the evidence that it was David Kelly’s body is surprisingly thin on the ground.
At the Hutton Inquiry neither Janice Kelly nor Rachel Kelly was asked about identification of the body.
So no evidence was taken from those who would, assuming the body was David Kelly’s, have been able, in normal circumstances to identify the body.
The only mention at the Hutton Inquiry of anything resembling identification evidence was by Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page.
In response to a question about the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of Dr. Kelly’s dental records we read (http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans42.htm ):
However, upon hearing about
12 this, and again I stress because I am a police officer
13 and probably inherently suspicious, because dental
14 records are a means of identification it did prompt me
15 to take the extra precaution of having DNA checks
16 carried out to confirm that the body we had was the body
17 of Dr Kelly, notwithstanding the fact that that had been
18 identified by his family.
So, ACC Page tells us, in a throwaway line that the body had been identified by the family.
What ACC Page didn’t say was that there was another question about the reliability of identification evidence that hadn’t, at that time, been publicly disclosed.
During the postmortem carried out on the evening of 18th July 2003, Dr. Nicholas Hunt had dissected the soft tissues of the face.
FACE: The facial soft tissues were dissected to the level of the bone and there was no evidence of soft tissue or bony injury.
The postmortem was carried out on the evening of 18th July 2003. The visual identification of the body was carried out on the morning of 19th July 2003.
How different did the face of the Harrowdown Hill body look after the soft tissues had been dissected?
We don’t know.
Was the appearance changed sufficiently to render visual identification unreliable?
We don’t know.
Did Janice Kelly say something clearcut like, “Oh yes, that’s David.” or, as a result of the dissection of the face, something uncertain like “Well, I suppose it is probably David.”?
We’re not told.
Was it the face that was used to identify the body at all?
We’re not told.
Could the unique feature of the body have been the curving scar on the right elbow? (You know the scar resulting from the injury and operation that everybody at the Hutton Inquiry carefully didn’t mention.)
We don’t know if that irony took place or not.
So, there are three sources of doubt at the identification evidence:
1. The visual identification was, in effect, hearsay since no member of the Kelly family stated that they had identified the body
2. The supposed visual identification of the body was carried out after the face was dissected, possibly altering the appearance of the face
3. The dental records were, so it seems, removed and replaced by person or persons unknown
ACC Page told the Hutton Inquiry that he asked for DNA tests on the body and the family.
The results of those tests (or what purports to be the results of those tests) were first disclosed in June 2011 [check] following the Attorney General’s statement to the House of Commons. Appendix 2 where the DNA results are contained was initially not disclosed but after a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office it was added to the documents on the AGO website.
However, Appendix 2 was disclosed only in heavily redacted form.
All the components of the DNA results for Sian Kelly, Ellen Wilson and Janice Kelly are redacted.
The result is that we are asked to take the DNA match on trust.
As I write this chapter, the inquest of the MI6 agent Gareth Williams is taking place. One issue in that connection is that the DNA evidence was messed up. Was that because the DNA database was hacked? We don’t know but we can’t exclude the possibility.
If the LGC Forensics DNA database can be hacked or is otherwise unreliable even the unredacted DNA evidence supposedly identifying the Harrowdown Hill body as Dr. David Kelly may be false or otherwise unreliable.
I started this chapter by asking “Whose body was found at Harrowdown Hill?”.
The strict answer to that question is that we don’t know.