UK Daily Mail
Sunday, Aug 31, 2008
A female confidante of Dr David Kelly raised disturbing new questions last night over how the Ministry of Defence weapons inspector was able to kill himself.
After his body was discovered in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003, a Government inquiry led by Lord Hutton ruled that he committed suicide by slashing his left wrist with a knife and taking an overdose of co-proxamol, a painkiller commonly used for arthritis.
He was said to be anguished about being named as the source of a BBC report, which alleged that Tony Blair ‘sexed up’ a dossier justifying the invasion of Iraq.
But five years after his death at 59, his close friend, American military linguist Mai Pederson, has come forward to dispute this account.
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The Hutton inquiry heard that he died after making several cuts to his left wrist, which severed the ulnar artery, buried deep in the tissue on the side of the hand nearest the little finger.
An earlier coroner’s inquest was halted when the Government used an obscure law to turn the investigation over to Lord Hutton. His inquiry concluded that ‘there was no involvement by a third party’ in the scientist’s death, which was said to be caused primarily by the cut artery and hastened by the painkillers.
Ms Pederson, a former US Air Force officer, met Dr Kelly when she was assigned to work in 1998 as a translator for the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq.
And she revealed in an interview with The Mail on Sunday that, in the months leading to his death, the right-handed scientist was unable to use his right hand for tasks requiring strength because of a painful injury to his right elbow.
According to Ms Pederson, when she dined with Dr Kelly at a Washington restaurant in the spring of 2003, the hand’s grip was so weak that he struggled to get a knife through a steak he had ordered.
The linguist, who counselled Dr Kelly during his conversion to the Baha’i religious faith that she follows, says he had begun to favour his left hand for even relatively minor tasks, a tendency she observed on numerous other occasions.
‘David would have had to have been a contortionist to kill himself the way they claim,’ she said.
‘I don’t know whether he was born right-handed but by the time I first met him he favoured his left hand for any task that required strength, like opening a door or carrying his briefcase.
‘When he embraced friends at the beginning and end of Baha’i meetings, it was his left arm that you felt hugging you and you could tell his right arm hurt him because he rubbed the elbow a lot.
‘I didn’t want to pry but he finally told me the reason in the spring of 2003. It was the last time I saw him before he died. He was visiting America on business and we went out to dinner.
‘He ordered steak and he was holding his knife very oddly in the palm of his right hand, with his wrist crooked, trying to cut the meat.
‘He told me that some time ago he had broken his right elbow and it was never fixed properly, so he had real problems with it. It was painful and it never regained its strength.
‘I just don’t see how he could have used his right hand to cut through the nerves and tendons of his left wrist – especially as the knife he supposedly used had a dull blade.’
This article was posted: Sunday, August 31, 2008 at 3:30 am