Coe at the Death Scene
DC Coe goes on to describe how, on their way to the river, he
and DC Shields encounter Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman (the
other volunteer searcher). Louise and Paul explain how they have
already found the body, and Paul Chapman leads the three (note,
three, according to Chapman's testimony) officers to it.
According to the testimony of other witnesses, we are given to
understand that Coe's two (note, two) companions wait and guard
the scene from the path while DC Coe visits the body alone.
When asked about Kelly's body-position Coe twice states that it
is laying on its back:
"It was laying on its back - the body was laying on its back by
a large tree...".
The way he repeats the phrase it is almost as if he is trying to
prompt himself to remember to say, "laying on its back". Yet
Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman, the first two body-witnesses,
have said the body is slumped AGAINST, i.e. touching, the tree.
Did Louise and Paul get it so wrong? Why would they? The sight
of a dead body is not easy to forget. Or did Coe and his
accomplices MOVE the body from a sitting to a lying position?
And if they did, what might have been the reason?
As to Coe's powers of observation, it is curious that, while
none of the other witnesses are able to say much about the
jacket, DC Coe manages to name it as a "Barbour jacket". But
when asked about the cap, he is unable to say for sure if this
cap was on the head or "apart from the body" - despite the fact
that, according to his own account, he has been standing
"guarding" the body at a distance of only 7-8 feet for "in the
region of about 25 or 30 minutes".
Perhaps the Barbour jacket holds some particular significance
for Coe. And his confusion over whether the cap is on or off
could be because actually he is not standing guarding the scene
as he claims, but, during the half an hour he is there, actively
DC Coe & the "Men in Black"
On 23 September 2003 Assistant Chief Constable Page of Abingdon
police station tells the Hutton Inquiry that a "gentleman" has
contacted both the police and the Inquiry to express his concern
over his sighting of "three individuals.... in dark or black
clothing" near the scene where Dr David Kelly's body was found
early on the morning of 18th July.
Page attempts to explain away the sighting, testifying how,
"...we undertook some
fairly extensive work. We got
3 statements from all our officers who were at the scene
4 and that was in excess of 50. We plotted their
5 movements on a map and eventually were able to
6 triangulate where the writer was talking about and
7 identify three of our officers, so I am satisfied that
8 I am aware of the identity of these three individuals..."
But why do
the police feel the need to undertake "some fairly extensive
work"? Why do they take "in excess of 50" statements"? For
extensive work by the police to be deemed necessary, the
"gentleman" who witnesses the incident must have described
something about these three individuals which did not fit the
pattern of mere search officers.
Vanessa Hunt, the paramedic and fourth body-witness, in her
testimony to the Hutton Inquiry, describes PCs Franklin and
Sawyer as wearing "dark polo shirts" and "combat trousers", so
presumably this must be the standard attire for police search
officers - pretty much "dark clothing".
So what is it about the man's sighting of these particular three
individuals which sets them apart from regular search officers
and is unusual enough to prompt such a line of inquiry? If their
clothing is similar to that of search officers, then it is
possibly their behaviour that is odd in some way. Are they
indeed "officers"? Are these three individuals DC Coe and his
two"uniformed officers". And are they behaving oddly?
Page claims in his September 23rd testimony that the
triangulation shows that the three are police officers and
satisfactorily accounted for. Yet this does not add up, because
PC Franklin says, when asked how many other people are out
searching at this time:
"I believe it was only the 2 volunteers out searching at that
And PC Franklin should know, because he is the POLICE SEARCH
PC Sawyer, the SEARCH TEAM LEADER, explains the search
arrangements in his testimony as follows:
11 A. I am a search team
leader, which means I have done
12 a further course which enables me to actually run
13 a search. Police Constable Franklin, being the police
14 search adviser, will liaise with the senior
15 investigating officer. They will decide on the
16 parameters of the search, what they want searched. It
17 is then turned over to me to organise the logistics of
18 it, to plan the search, do the cordons, to set the
19 searchers going and supervise them while they are
is it then, that statements are taken from 50 police officers if
there is not a single search officer on the scene between 8.30
and 9.30am on 18th July - the time given for the "men in black"
sighting? The timing is crucial. It is true that Page has
arranged for a much larger police search contingent, to number
in the region of 40 officers. But according to the police search
advisor's testimony, this force has not, at this time, been
assembled on the ground, and not a single regular police search
officer was present on Harrowdown Hill at that time.
So how do we account for the three individuals in dark clothing?
If there are no other police searching the area at the time they
are sighted, then either these three are DC Coe and his two
companions - or three other, entirely unknown, mystery
individuals, possibly an SAS-style assassination or clean-up
Is there a reason for Coe's "sort of search towards the river"?
As they are searching, Louise and Paul Chapman come across some
riverboat people who say they have seen a helicopter up the
night before and some police officers "at some point
previously". Are these DC Coe and DC Shields? Have they circled
round perhaps? It is just conceivable that the riverboat is not
innocent, that the people on it are not holiday-makers, and that
the boat itself is the designated hide-out & get-away method for
an assassination team?
No Cooroboration of Coe's Story
Nowhere in DC Coe's testimony are we given the names of anyone -
other than DC Shields - who can corroborate any part of his
story. We have no word but Coe's that he appeared at Abingdon
police station, that he was assigned to make house-to-house
enquiries in Longworth, or that he ever talked to Ruth Absalom
about Kelly's route. In contrast, PCs Franklin and Sawyer, cited
a "Sergeant Woods" as the person able to verify their attendance
at Abingdon. The Thames Valley Police search team leaders, PCs
Franklin and Sawyer, said that they had "no idea" what DC Coe
and his companions (either one, according to Coe, or two,
according to them) were doing there.
The one individual who could have corroborated Coe's testimony -
DC Shields - was never called before the Inquiry. Why not?
No Legal Inquisition
One feature of the Hutton Inquiry that is truly stunning is why
there has been so little cross-examination of witnesses.
Almost nothing is cross-checked in relation to the discovery of
the body - e.g. the Hutton legal counsel, Mr Dingemans, could
have said to PC Franklin, the body-witness who followed DC Coe:
"You say that the body was found flat on its back, yet Louise
Holmes says it was slumped against a large tree - can you
Similarly DC Coe's evidence is neither questioned, nor compared
with evidence from previous witnesses.
He should have been asked:
- whom did you see at
Abingdon police station?
- who instructed you to make a house to house search?
- who told you about Ruth Absalom?
- why were you making a search towards the river?
- whom were you with at the time?
finally, to force an explanation it should have been put to him:
"You say you with one other person - DC Shields - yet five
previous witnesses have stated you were with two people - how do
you account for that?"
As this type of questioning did not take place, one cannot help
but gain the impression that DC Coe in particular was let off a
very uncomfortable hook.
The fact that witnesses were not cross-examined on the physical
circumstances surrounding the search for/discovery of Dr Kelly's
body clearly suggests a cover-up.
DC Coe was due to testify on 2nd September but for some reason,
did not appear. Counsel to the Inquiry, Mr Dingemans merely
states: "we have not been able to get him here this morning." Is
that because he was waiting for all other "body-discovery
testimonies" to have taken place so that none that followed
would contradict what he had said? If DC Coe was not to be
cross-examined subsequently, then his testimony would not be
analysed under the public glare.
Those watching the hearings would be left a little confused by
Coe's contradiction of previous witnesses as to how many
officers were with him, but reassured by his being a senior
British policeman - a detective constable. A detective constable
would surely be accurate about who he was with and what he was
doing - senior policemen can always be relied upon - or can
Recall that DC Coe departs from the instructions he receives at
Abingdon police station. Recall that he almost certainly lied
about the number of individuals with him. Recall the body is
reported as "sitting up" or "slumped" against a tree before his
arrival, and "flat on its back" after he leaves the scene. This
being the case, how far can his testimony be trusted?
Jim Rarey, in his recent article, "The Murder of David Kelly"(1)
has pointed out that a Thames Valley Police operation, listed on
the Hutton Inquiry website as a "TVP Tactical Support Major
Incident Policy Book", actually commenced at 2.30pm on 17th July
- many hours prior to David Kelly's body being reported missing
at 11.40pm on that day - and finished at 9.30am on 18th July,
around the time the "three individuals dressed in black or dark
clothing" were sighted and DC Coe left the scene. The name of
this operation? "Operation Mason". The evidence suggests that DC
Coe's testimony - emanating from a figure in authority though it
does - cannot, in fact, be trusted. However, it may be unfair to
focus on DC Coe alone. He may have been but one link in a chain
- a chain that was long, complex, and which involved many "dark
|| Part 1 |
Part 2 | Part 3
| Part 4 | Part
5 | Part 6 |
Part 7 | Part 8 |
Part 9 | Part 10
This additional information on Dr. Kelly
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