Magazine article The Spectator

Unanswered Questions

Magazine article The Spectator

Unanswered Questions

Article excerpt

We still aren't sure why, two summers ago, Dr David Kelly killed himself. I don't believe for one moment he was murdered - cui bono? And, for example, I have no doubt the mysterious men in black near the scene really were policemen.

Yet it does remain puzzling. The general view seems to be that he was a man who prized above everything his integrity and his honesty. However, faced with the loss of his job and pension he dissembled about what he had told Andrew Gilligan. At the meeting with the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, he realised he had been rumbled - he suffered a terrible blow to his self-esteem, and he knew that his life was about to unravel.

(Sitting in that committee room, I entirely failed to spot the fact that he had suddenly come to this awful conclusion. Kelly spoke in little more than a whisper, and I fantasised that, with Andrew Gilligan in the Charing Cross Hotel, he had been equally inaudible. 'They can serve us lunch in four to five minutes,' he might have muttered, and Gilligan could have heard 'launch in 45 minutes'.)

But if Dr Kelly had been kicked out of the Civil Service he would - contrary to the view of those who imagine we live in a close approximation to a police state - have been feted in the media, and offered huge sums for his expertise and for any book he might write. At the Hutton inquiry one of his MoD colleagues movingly spoke about how, in the last days of his life, his main concern had been for his sick wife. His money could have brought her some comfort; his suicide must have made her life infinitely worse. In the film we see him leaving for his last walk while she is retching into the toilet bowl. Would he have gone ahead, at that moment? Of course suicides rarely think rationally, and his mother had probably killed herself. There may be something in the genes.

I mention all this merely because the situation seems to have been a little more complicated than was implied in The Government Inspector, Peter Kosminsky's film on Channel 4 (Thursday). Here Kelly was a brave, resourceful and rational hero, driven to his grave by the lies and cheating of Downing Street officials. These were led by Alastair Campbell, working over the head of Tony Blair, who is seen ludicrously trying a country blues riff on his guitar while Campbell hectors him over the phone about the need to 'out' Kelly. Did that happen? The film-makers have made much fuss about the fact that they were given no co-operation by Downing Street (whose view is that if they help one television company they'd have to help them all). …

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