The Iraq Inquiry was intended to ‘find the bodies’ in the murky world of the military build-up to the Iraq invasion. Yesterday it appeared that this included the only-just-cold body of David Kelly, the British weapons inspector who had let slip to Andrew Gilligan that the government’s claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction failed to stand up.
Lord Hutton, it has been revealed, barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem, for 70 years. This has been described as a ‘draconian’ move, carried out ‘in secret’ and has further stoked the fires of conspiracy.
The assumption is that what is being concealed must automatically be a matter of national importance, possibly the smoking gun which would lead Blair straight to a seat in the dock at the Hague, and thus the world and his blog clamours, demands, screeches, whines, that the information must be released.
This is to assume that David Kelly, sometime bit part player in the great misinformation saga of weapons of mass destruction, had no other life, no other role, no entitlement to privacy for the sake of his family that over shadowed his recent moments of fame as a national hero to those who wish to bury Blair.
Much has been made of David Kelly’s reported words that if Iraq were invaded he would probably ‘be found dead in the woods’, and the assumption is made that he was indicating that harm would befall him at – possibly Governmental – hands; that statement can just as easily be read as his intention to take his own life should his assurances to his Iraqi sources that there would ‘be no war’ if they co-operated, prove to be worthless.
An autopsy is the final invasion of privacy, the revelation of a lifetime’s personal secrets, from how much you drank and smoke, to the diseases you may have suffered from, the disabilities you had concealed, all concluding in your probable cause of death. It is only Dr Kelly’s probable cause of death that the great British public have an interest in.
It is said that a house sale is the most stressful time in ones life, I would add that having your husband recovering from a heart attack in one room, your aunt recovering from a stroke which had paralysed her and left her speechless in another, puts ’stressfull’ in another league. That my uncle had died a few days previously merely added to the quixotic mix, as I busied myself showing yet another prospective buyer round the house. The phone rang. It was the Coroner. Could he speak to my Aunt? Well, obviously not, could I help? Legally I was the only next of kin who could answer his question.
His question poleaxed me, it remains a conundrum to this day. My uncle’s testicles, were, I quote ‘not present on his body at the time of autopsy’, could I throw any light on this matter? Not being an incestuous sort of family, I had not a clue, not an inkling, that Uncle Dave, bless his socks, was any less than all present and accounted for. Nor should I have had, it was a secret which he and my aunt had kept to themselves for many years. Now, of course, I was free to ponder on their late marriage, the unfairness of the family rumours that had swirled round my aunt that she ‘was not the marrying kind’, their childless state, indeed, my aunt’s oft stated declaration that she ‘loathed chidlren’ – was it true?
My uncle’s autopsy records are available to anyone who can prove a reasonable reason to access them, they are in the semi-public domain. Would it be reasonable that they should be pored over by every blogger, every journalist in the kingdom, had a small part of his life been involved in the public domain, no matter how controversial? I think not.
Are we accusing Lord Hutton of gross corruption, of being aware that there is something in that autopsy that would prove beyond doubt that David Kelly was murdered? Are we accusing Mrs Kelly and the Kelly children of having stayed silent in order to support a corrupt war? I don’t hear Mrs Kelly clamouring for the release of this report. Either she has seen it, or she has no wish for it to be released.
The Coroner for Oxfordshire is of the opinion that the records were embargoed to ‘protect the children’. Is he also aware that the autopsy contained proof that Dr Kelly was murdered and is staying silent to protect Tony Blair? Or is he aware of something unrelated that we know nothing of, nor need to know?
We are demanding every last scrap of information, an invasion of privacy beyond death, in order to fulfil our assumption that ‘the truth’ is that David Kelly was murdered, and we are forgetting that his body may have harboured secrets that have nothing to do with us, and could be deeply hurtful and confusing to his children, and his wife.
It is possible that Lord Hutton was mindful that an autopsy reveals far more than the cause of death, and far from an ‘establishment cover-up’ he was actually pre-empting what he must have known would be a ghoulish dissection of every last scrap of information about a man who existed in a larger and more important sphere than just ‘Government Weapons Inspector’.