The Hutton Inquiry
466. In this chapter I set out the conclusions which I have reached on the question how Dr Kelly came to his death and on the five groups of issues which arise from the evidence which I have heard.
467. I am satisfied that Dr Kelly took his own life and that the principal cause of death was bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist which Dr Kelly had inflicted on himself with the knife found beside his body. It is probable that the ingestion of an excess amount of Coproxamol tablets coupled with apparently clinically silent coronary artery disease would have played a part in bringing about death more certainly and more rapidly than it would have otherwise been the case. I am further satisfied that no other person was involved in the death of Dr Kelly and that Dr Kelly was not suffering from any significant mental illness at the time he took his own life.
(1) On the issues relating to the preparation of the Government's dossier of 24 September 2002 entitled IRAQ'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, my conclusions are as follows:
(i) The dossier was prepared and drafted by a small team of the assessment staff of the JIC. Mr John Scarlett, the Chairman of the JIC, had the overall responsibility for the drafting of the dossier. The dossier, which included the 45 minutes claim, was issued by the Government on 24 September 2002 with the full approval of the JIC.
(ii) The 45 minutes claim was based on a report which was received by the SIS from a source which that Service regarded as reliable. Therefore, whether or not at some time in the future the report on which the 45 minutes claim was based is shown to be unreliable, the allegation reported by Mr Gilligan on 29 May 2003 that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong before the Government decided to put it in the dossier, was an allegation which was unfounded.
(iii) The allegation was also unfounded that the reason why the 45 minutes claim was not in the original draft of the dossier was because it only came from one source and the intelligence agencies did not really believe it was necessarily true. The reason why the 45 minutes claim did not appear in draft assessments or draft dossiers until 5 September 2002 was because the intelligence report on which it was based was not received by the SIS until 29 August 2002 and the JIC assessment staff did not have time to insert it in a draft until the draft of the assessment of 5 September 2002.
(iv) The true position in relation to the attitude of "the Intelligence Services" to the 45 minutes claim being inserted in the dossier was that the concerns expressed by Dr Jones were considered by higher echelons in the Intelligence Services and were not acted upon, and the JIC, the most senior body in the Intelligence Services charged with the assessment of intelligence, approved the wording in the dossier. Moreover, the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons section of the Defence Intelligence Staff, headed by Dr Brian Jones, did not argue that the intelligence relating to the 45 minutes claim should not have been included in the dossier but they did suggest that the wording in which the claim was stated in the dossier was too strong and that instead of the dossier stating "we judge" that "Iraq has:- military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them", the wording should state "intelligence suggests".
(v) Mr Alastair Campbell made it clear to Mr Scarlett on behalf of the Prime Minister that 10 Downing Street wanted the dossier to be worded to make as strong a case as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, and 10 Downing Street made written suggestions to Mr Scarlett as to changes in the wording of the draft dossier which would strengthen it. But Mr Campbell recognised, and told Mr Scarlett that 10 Downing Street recognised, that nothing should be stated in the dossier with which the intelligence community were not entirely happy.
(vi) Mr Scarlett accepted some of the drafting suggestions made to him by 10 Downing Street but he only accepted those suggestions which were consistent with the intelligence known to the JIC and he rejected those suggestions which were not consistent with such intelligence and the dossier issued by the Government was approved by the JIC.
(vii) As the dossier was one to be presented to, and read by, Parliament and the public, and was not an intelligence assessment to be considered only by the Government, I do not consider that it was improper for Mr Scarlett and the JIC to take into account suggestions as to drafting made by 10 Downing Street and to adopt those suggestions if they were consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC. However I consider that the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the Prime Minister to have a dossier which, whilst consistent with the available intelligence, was as strong as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment. Although this possibility cannot be completely ruled out, I am satisfied that Mr Scarlett, the other members of the JIC, and the members of the assessment staff engaged in the drafting of the dossier were concerned to ensure that the contents of the dossier were consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC.
(viii) The term "sexed-up" is a slang expression, the meaning of which lacks clarity in the context of the discussion of the dossier. It is capable of two different meanings. It could mean that the dossier was embellished with items of intelligence known or believed to be false or unreliable to make the case against Saddam Hussein stronger, or it could mean that whilst the intelligence contained in the dossier was believed to be reliable, the dossier was drafted in such a way as to make the case against Saddam Hussein as strong as the intelligence contained in it permitted. If the term is used in this latter sense, then because of the drafting suggestions made by 10 Downing Street for the purpose of making a strong case against Saddam Hussein, it could be said that the Government "sexed-up" the dossier. However in the context of the broadcasts in which the "sexing-up" allegation was reported and having regard to the other allegations reported in those broadcasts, I consider that the allegation was unfounded as it would have been understood by those who heard the broadcasts to mean that the dossier had been embellished with intelligence known or believed to be false or unreliable, which was not the case.
(2) On the issues relating to Dr Kelly's meeting with Mr Andrew Gilligan in the Charing Cross Hotel on 22 May 2003 my conclusions are as follows:
(i) In the light of the uncertainties arising from Mr Gilligan's evidence and the existence of two versions of his notes made on his personal organiser of his discussion with Dr Kelly on 22 May it is not possible to reach a definite conclusion as to what Dr Kelly said to Mr Gilligan. It may be that Dr Kelly said to Mr Gilligan that Mr Campbell was responsible for transforming the dossier, and it may be that when Mr Gilligan suggested to Dr Kelly that the dossier was transformed to make it "sexier", Dr Kelly agreed with this suggestion. However I am satisfied that Dr Kelly did not say to Mr Gilligan that the Government probably knew or suspected that the 45 minutes claim was wrong before that claim was inserted in the dossier. I am further satisfied that Dr Kelly did not say to Mr Gilligan that the reason why the 45 minutes claim was not included in the original draft of the dossier was because it only came from one source and the intelligence agencies did not really believe it was necessarily true. In the course of his evidence, which I have set out in paragraphs 244, 245 and 246, Mr Gilligan accepted that he had made errors in his broadcasts in the Today programme on 29 May 2003. The reality was that the 45 minutes claim was based on an intelligence report which the SIS believed to be reliable and the 45 minutes claim was inserted in the dossier with the approval of the JIC, the most senior body in the United Kingdom responsible for the assessment of intelligence. In addition the reason why the 45 minutes claim was not inserted in the first draft of the dossier was because the intelligence on which it was based was not received by the SIS in London until 29 August 2002. Therefore the allegations reported by Mr Gilligan that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong or questionable and that it was not inserted in the first draft of the dossier because it only came from one source and the intelligence agencies did not really believe it was necessarily true, were unfounded.
(ii) Dr Kelly's meeting with Mr Gilligan was unauthorised and in meeting Mr Gilligan and discussing intelligence matters with him, Dr Kelly was acting in breach of the Civil Service code of procedure which applied to him.
(iii) It may be that when he met Mr Gilligan, Dr Kelly said more to him than he had intended to say and that at the time of the meeting he did not realise the gravity of the situation which he was helping to create by discussing intelligence matters with Mr Gilligan. But whatever Dr Kelly thought at the time of his meeting with Mr Gilligan, it is clear that after Mr Gilligan's broadcasts on 29 May Dr Kelly must have come to realise the gravity of the situation for which he was partly responsible by commenting on intelligence matters to him and he accepted that the meeting was unauthorised, as he acknowledged in a telephone conversation with his friend and colleague Ms Olivia Bosch after his meeting with Mr Gilligan.
(3) On the issues relating to the BBC arising from Mr Gilligan's broadcasts on the BBC Today programme on 29 May 2003 my conclusions are as follows:
(i) The allegations reported by Mr Gilligan on the BBC Today programme on 29 May 2003 that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong or questionable before the dossier was published and that it was not inserted in the first draft of the dossier because it only came from one source and the intelligence agencies did not really believe it was necessarily true, were unfounded.
(ii) The communication by the media of information (including information obtained by investigative reporters) on matters of public interest and importance is a vital part of life in a democratic society. However the right to communicate such information is subject to the qualification (which itself exists for the benefit of a democratic society) that false accusations of fact impugning the integrity of others, including politicians, should not be made by the media. Where a reporter is intending to broadcast or publish information impugning the integrity of others the management of his broadcasting company or newspaper should ensure that a system is in place whereby his editor or editors give careful consideration to the wording of the report and to whether it is right in all the circumstances to broadcast or publish it. The allegations that Mr Gilligan was intending to broadcast in respect of the Government and the preparation of the dossier were very grave allegations in relation to a subject of great importance and I consider that the editorial system which the BBC permitted was defective in that Mr Gilligan was allowed to broadcast his report at 6.07am without editors having seen a script of what he was going to say and having considered whether it should be approved.
(iii) The BBC management was at fault in the following respects in failing to investigate properly the Government's complaints that the report in the 6.07am broadcast was false that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong even before it decided to put it in the dossier. The BBC management failed, before Mr Sambrook wrote his letter of 27 June 2003 to Mr Campbell, to make an examination of Mr Gilligan's notes on his personal organiser of his meeting with Dr Kelly to see if they supported the allegations which he had made in his broadcast at 6.07am. When the BBC management did look at Mr Gilligan's notes after 27 June it failed to appreciate that the notes did not fully support the most serious of the allegations which he had reported in the 6.07am broadcast, and it therefore failed to draw the attention of the Governors to the lack of support in the notes for the most serious of the allegations.
(iv) The e-mail sent by Mr Kevin Marsh, the editor of the Today programme on 27 June 2003 to Mr Stephen Mitchell, the Head of Radio News, which was critical of Mr Gilligan's method of reporting, and which referred to Mr Gilligan's "loose use of language and lack of judgment in some of his phraseology" and referred also to "the loose and in some ways distant relationship he's been allowed to have with Today," was clearly relevant to the complaints which the Government was making about his broadcasts on 29 May, and the lack of knowledge on the part of Mr Sambrook, the Director of News, and the Governors of this critical e-mail shows a defect in the operation of the BBC's management system for the consideration of complaints in respect of broadcasts.
(v) The Governors were right to take the view that it was their duty to protect the independence of the BBC against attacks by the Government and Mr Campbell's complaints were being expressed in exceptionally strong terms which raised very considerably the temperature of the dispute between the Government and the BBC. However Mr Campbell's allegation that the BBC had an anti-war agenda in his evidence to the FAC was only one part of his evidence. The Government's concern about Mr Gilligan's broadcasts on 29 May was a separate issue about which specific complaints had been made by the Government. Therefore the Governors should have recognised more fully than they did that their duty to protect the independence of the BBC was not incompatible with giving proper consideration to whether there was validity in the Government's complaints, no matter how strongly worded by Mr Campbell, that the allegations against its integrity reported in Mr Gilligan's broadcasts were unfounded and the Governors failed to give this issue proper consideration. The view taken by the Governors, as explained in evidence by Mr Gavyn Davies, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, that they had to rely on the BBC management to investigate and assess whether Mr Gilligan's source was reliable and credible and that it was not for them as Governors to investigate whether the allegations reported were themselves accurate, is a view which is understandable. However this was not the correct view for the Governors to take because the Government had stated to the BBC in clear terms, as had Mr Campbell to the FAC, that the report that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong was untruthful, and this denial was made with the authority of the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the JIC. In those circumstances, rather than relying on the assurances of BBC management, I consider that the Governors themselves should have made more detailed investigations into the extent to which Mr Gilligan's notes supported his report. If they had done this they would probably have discovered that the notes did not support the allegation that the Government knew that the 45 minutes claim was probably wrong, and the Governors should then have questioned whether it was right for the BBC to maintain that it was in the public interest to broadcast that allegation in Mr Gilligan's report and to rely on Mr Gilligan's assurances that his report was accurate. Therefore in the very unusual and specific circumstances relating to Mr Gilligan's broadcasts, the Governors are to be criticised for themselves failing to make more detailed investigations into whether this allegation reported by Mr Gilligan was properly supported by his notes and for failing to give proper and adequate consideration to whether the BBC should publicly acknowledge that this very grave allegation should not have been broadcast.
(4)(A) On the issue whether the Government behaved in a way which was dishonourable or underhand or duplicitous in revealing Dr Kelly's name to the media my conclusions are as follows:
(i) There was no dishonourable or underhand or duplicitous strategy by the Government covertly to leak Dr Kelly's name to the media. If the bare details of the MoD statement dated 8 July 2003, the changing drafts of the Q and A material prepared in the MoD, and the lobby briefings by the Prime Minister's official spokesman on 9 July are looked at in isolation from the surrounding circumstances it would be possible to infer, as some commentators have done, that there was an underhand strategy by the Government to leak Dr Kelly's name in a covert way. However having heard a large volume of evidence on this issue I have concluded that there was no such strategy on the part of the Government. I consider that in the midst of a major controversy relating to Mr Gilligan's broadcasts which had contained very grave allegations against the integrity of the Government and fearing that Dr Kelly's name as the source for those broadcasts would be disclosed by the media at any time, the Government's main concern was that it would be charged with a serious cover up if it did not reveal that a civil servant had come forward. I consider that the evidence of Mr Donald Anderson MP and Mr Andrew Mackinlay MP, the Chairman and a member respectively of the FAC, together with the questions put by Sir John Stanley MP to Dr Kelly when he appeared before the FAC, clearly show that the Government's concern was well founded. Therefore I consider that the Government did not behave in a dishonourable or underhand or duplicitous way in issuing on 8 July 2003, after it had been read over to Dr Kelly and he had said that he was content with it, a statement which said that a civil servant, who was not named, had come forward to volunteer that he had met Mr Gilligan on 22 May.
(ii) The decision by the MoD to confirm Dr Kelly's name if, after the statement had been issued, the correct name were put to the MoD by a reporter, was not part of a covert strategy to leak his name, but was based on the view that in a matter of such intense public and media interest it would not be sensible to try to conceal the name when the MoD thought that the press were bound to discover the correct name, and a further consideration in the mind of the MoD was that it did not think it right that media speculation should focus, wrongly, on other civil servants.
(iii) It was reasonable for the Government to take the view that, even if it sought to keep confidential the fact that Dr Kelly had come forward, the controversy surrounding Mr Gilligan's broadcasts was so great and the level of media interest was so intense that Dr Kelly's name as Mr Gilligan's source was bound to become known to the public and that it was not a practical possibility to keep his name secret.
(4)(B) On the issue whether the Government failed to take proper steps to help and protect Dr Kelly in the difficult position in which he found himself my conclusion is as follows:
(i) Once the decision had been taken on 8 July to issue the statement, the MoD was at fault and is to be criticised for not informing Dr Kelly that its press office would confirm his name if a journalist suggested it. Although I am satisfied that Dr Kelly realised, once the MoD statement had been issued on Tuesday 8 July, that his name would come out, it must have been a great shock and very upsetting for him to have been told in a brief telephone call from his line manager, Dr Wells, on the evening of 9 July that the press office of his own department had confirmed his name to the press and must have given rise to a feeling that he had been badly let down by his employer. I further consider that the MoD was at fault in not having set up a procedure whereby Dr Kelly would be informed immediately his name had been confirmed to the press and in permitting a period of one and a half hours to elapse between the confirmation of his name to the press and information being given to Dr Kelly that his name had been confirmed to the press. However these criticisms are subject to the mitigating circumstances that (1) Dr Kelly's exposure to press attention and intrusion, whilst obviously very stressful, was only one of the factors placing him under great stress; (2) individual officials in the MoD did try to help and support him in the ways which I have described in paragraphs 430 and 431; and (3) because of his intensely private nature, Dr Kelly was not an easy man to help or to whom to give advice.
(5) On the issue of the factors which may have led Dr Kelly to take his own life I adopt as my own conclusion the opinion which Professor Hawton, the Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford University, expressed in the course of his evidence:
[2 September, page 132, line 2]
Q. Have you considered, now, with the benefit of hindsight that we all have, what factors did contribute to Dr Kelly's death?
A. I think that as far as one can deduce, the major factor was the severe loss of self esteem, resulting from his feeling that people had lost trust in him and from his dismay at being exposed to the media.
Q. And why have you singled that out as a major factor?
A. Well, he talked a lot about it; and I think being such a private man, I think this was anathema to him to be exposed, you know, publicly in this way. In a sense, I think he would have seen it as being publicly disgraced.
Q. What other factors do you think were relevant?
A. Well, I think that carrying on that theme, I think that he must have begun - he is likely to have begun to think that, first of all, the prospects for continuing in his previous work role were diminishing very markedly and, indeed, my conjecture that he had begun to fear he would lose his job altogether.
Q. What effect is that likely to have had on him?
A. Well, I think that would have filled him with a profound sense of hopelessness; and that, in a sense, his life's work had been not wasted but that had been totally undermined.
LORD HUTTON: Could you just elaborate a little on that, Professor, again? As sometimes is the case in this Inquiry, witnesses give answers and further explanation is obvious, but nonetheless I think it is helpful just to have matters fully spelt out. What do you think would have caused Dr Kelly to think that the prospects of continuing in his work were becoming uncertain?
A. Well, I think, my Lord, that first of all, there had been the letter from Mr Hatfield which had laid out the difficulties that Dr Kelly, you know, is alleged to have got into.
LORD HUTTON: Yes.
A. And in that letter there was also talk that should further matters come to light then disciplinary proceedings would need to be instigated.
LORD HUTTON: Yes.
A. And then of course there were the Parliamentary Questions which we have heard about, which suggested that questions were going to be asked about discipline in Parliament.
LORD HUTTON: Yes. Thank you.
MR DINGEMANS: Were there any other relevant factors?
A. I think the fact that he could not share his problems and feelings with other people, and the fact that he, according to the accounts I have been given, actually increasingly withdrew into himself. So in a sense he was getting further and further from being able to share the problems with other people, that is extremely important.
Q. Were there any other factors which you considered relevant?
A. Those are the main factors that I consider relevant.