Kelly warned of 'dark actors playing games'
THE e-mail to a friendly American reporter appeared routine but there was one telling phrase.
The impassioned writer spoke of "many dark actors playing games". Moments later Dr David Kelly left his home on his final walk into his beloved Oxfordshire countryside. The respected scientist and father of three had decided to leave his fellow actors behind and exit the stage he had so reluctantly been forced to mount.
The e-mail was sent on Thursday morning to Judy Miller, a New York Times writer who had used Kelly as a source for a book on biological terrorism. It was one of his last communications before leaving his 18th-century cottage in the village of Southmoor, his home for 20 years, and setting off to die.
Miller, a long-term friend of the family, holds the belief, based on earlier conversations with Kelly, that his reference to "dark actors" seemed to refer to people within the Ministry of Defence and Britain’s intelligence agencies with whom he had often sparred over interpretations of intelligence reports.
It also emerged that Kelly believed he had been put "through the wringer" by MoD officials, and that he felt "betrayed" when his name was released to the press.
Last night, a statement was released on behalf of his family - widow Janice, daughters, Sian, 32, and twins Rachel and Ellen - saying that all those involved in the events of the last few weeks should "think long and hard" about the circumstances of his death.
"We are utterly devastated and heartbroken by the death of our husband, father and brother," the family said. "Events over recent weeks made David’s life intolerable."
Kelly’s daughter, Ellen Wilson, 30, who lives on the outskirts of Torryburn, in Fife, also complained that he had encountered "a total lack of support" from his bosses at the MoD. But she said his appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee was a particularly painful experience. "Being called ‘chaff’ and a ‘fall guy’ didn’t help either," she said.
Those remarks were made by committee member Andrew Mackinlay who apologised yesterday, saying: "I deeply regret Doctor Kelly’s death. I am sorry for any of the stress that, albeit unintentionally, I may have caused him during his questioning before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee."
There were no clear indications on Thursday that events would take such a tragic turn.
Janice, who suffers from painful arthritis, was unconcerned when he left at 3pm. Although she knew her 59-year-old husband was deeply upset, his mental state did not seem to be too down. Walking was a hobby and he often disappeared for up to two or three hours. There were family matters to look forward to, such as the marriage of one of his daughters in October.
"After lunch, he went out for a walk to stretch his legs as he usually does," Janice told the New York Times yesterday.
She had no indication that her husband was contemplating suicide.
Only when he had not returned in the early evening - he had no coat and was only wearing a thin cotton shirt even though the weather was dull and showery - did concern start to mount. When he had not returned by 11.45pm, his wife dialled 999.
The last person to see him alive is believed to be farmer Paul Weaver, who saw the familiar figure of Kelly make his way down a footpath shortly after 3pm. He was heading north towards Harrowdown Hill, a local and secluded beauty spot. It appears that once there, about two miles from his home, he used a well-worn track into a cluster of oak and ash trees.
Concealed from the view of any passers-by, the distinguished scientist and government official took out a batch of painkillers and a knife.
Shortly after police were alerted on Thursday night, a search began. With no success overnight, police appealed for help from neighbours at 8.20am on Friday morning. Weaver was among those who turned out to search, as were friends from the village pub where Kelly, despite being teetotal, was part of the cribbage team.
An hour later, Kelly’s body was found curled up in the dense woodland.
Yesterday, Oxfordshire police confirmed Kelly had bled to death. Speaking on the steps of Wantage police station, acting superintendent David Purnell said:
"A post-mortem has revealed that the cause of death was haemorrhaging from a wound to his left wrist. The injury is consistent with having been caused by a bladed object.
"We have recovered a knife and an open packet of Co-Proxamol tablets at the scene. Whilst our enquiries are continuing there is no indication at this stage of any other party being involved."
Co-Proxamol are painkillers that are prescribed to people with arthritis. There was speculation last night that Kelly may have used his wife’s medicine in his suicide.
A leading forensic expert said last night that Kelly may have taken the tablets in an initial suicide attempt, possibly when he first went out for his walk.
He probably cut his wrist later after the drugs failed to kill him quickly enough.
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