Police helicopter failed to spot dead body of 'suicide' scientist


New information obtained by Bedfordshire on Sunday says the body of Dr David Kelly was not discovered despite the police helicopter flying directly over the spot where he was eventually found.

Dr Kelly was found dead in July 2003 at the height of the controversy over the Iraq invasion. There has never been an inquest but in 2004 the Hutton Inquiry declared his death a suicide.

Bedfordshire Police's helicopter was used in the Oxfordshire search for the missing scientist.

BoS used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gain access to flight records.

These show that the helicopter flew directly over the spot where Dr Kelly's body was discovered, after he was supposedly already dead.

Heat-imaging equipment, used on both night flights, should have discovered Dr Kelly's corpse, which still had a temperature of 24 degrees centigrade when found.

Bedfordshire Police were unwilling to reveal precise details of the helicopter's imaging system but stated: "It can read a car number plate three-quarters of a mile away from a height of 1,000 feet."
Thames Valley Police's assistant chief constable told the Hutton Inquiry only that the helicopter searched 'around the area of Dr Kelly's house'.

The flight summary records: 'Area search included bridle paths from Longworth north to the River Thames east to Newbridge and back to Kingston Bagpuize.'

The Longworth-Thames leg of this ten mile journey took the helicopter directly over Harrowdown Hill at 2.50am on July 18.

According to Hutton Dr Kelly's body had already been there for at least one hour and 35 minutes. Dr Kelly died after supposedly taking an overdose of tablets and cutting his wrist with a blunt knife. The post mortem found that Dr Kelly had died from loss of blood.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "There has been a thorough investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly and that investigation has been the subject of a major inquiry.

"Everything we have to say on the matter is fully documented and is a matter of public record.

"We have no further comment to make."

Lewes MP Norman Baker is an outspoken critic of the official version of Dr Kelly's death. He told Bedfordshire on Sunday: "This new information is significant.

"It indicates that the helicopter, equipped with heat-seeking technology, searched exactly the area where Dr Kelly's body was later discovered but found nothing.

"This provokes a number of new questions about the circumstances of the death of the country's most eminent weapons inspector.

"The Government must now re-open the inquest into the death of Dr Kelly and set a date for a proper inquiry into the Iraq War."

To be clear on this one would need to know:
1.  Is this kind of search subject to operator error -- i.e. is it possible to miss a heat source?
2.  Does whether or not a heat source is picked up depend on the level of heat -- i.e. if Dr Kelly's body temperature was approximately 30 degrees at 2.50am, would that have been picked up by the thermal imaging equipment?
3. Might dense forest cover prevent a heat source being picked up - especially if it is below normal body heat?

Rowena Thursby
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