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GP: Dr Malcolm Warner

GP: Kelly was not depressed

By Charles Reiss and Paul Cheston, Evening Standard
2 September 2003

Weapons expert David Kelly had a clean bill of health with no history of depression, his GP said today.

Dr Malcolm Warner said Dr Kelly had been his patient for 25 years but had not needed to consult him since 1999.

Dr Warner was questioned about the prescription-only pain killer co-proxamol which was found at the scientist's side when his body was discovered on 18 July in isolated woodland near his Oxfordshire home.

The GP said he had never prescribed the drug for Dr Kelly, 59, and that he had not needed to give him a prescription medicine of any kind since 1994.

Grim: police guard the woods where Kelly's body was found

Police believe Dr Kelly took the drug from his wife Janice's bedside cabinet. Mrs Kelly suffers from arthritis.

Dr Warner said he had been sent the results of a Ministry of Defence health check carried out on Dr Kelly on 8 July. But that, he said, had shown "nothing significant".

Asked whether the scientist had shown any signs of depression, Dr Warner replied: "No."

His evidence appeared to run counter to suggestions that Dr Kelly had been under mental stress even before he was exposed as the source for BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's controversial charges against the Government over Iraq.

It contrasted with the conversation between Dr Kelly and a senior diplomat in February when the scientist, voicing his fears at the impact on himself of an invasion of Iraq, had said that, if it came about: "I will probably be found dead in the woods."

The Hutton Inquiry heard from a neighbour of Dr Kelly's who was the last person to see him alive as he walked to the spot where he apparently committed suicide.

Ruth Absalom, who had known Dr Kelly for many years, said that he had seemed perfectly normal and had told her things were "not too bad".

She met the scientist as he walked near their village of Southmoor two days after his harrowing appearance before MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"I was walking my dog and met Dr Kelly at the top of Harris Lane about a mile away from our village," she said on a video link to the inquiry from Oxford. We stopped and had a chat. I said, 'Hello David, how's things?' and he said, 'Not too bad'.

"We stopped for a few minutes then Buster my dog was pulling at the lead. I said, 'I will have to go' and he said, 'See you again'.

"He was just his normal self, no different to any other time when I had met him. He was obviously going to the fields. It was the last time I saw him."

Dr Kelly's daughters Rachel and Sian searched all afternoon and into the evening through the country lanes, churches and bus shelters in an attempt to find their father.

His wife raised the alarm at 11.30pm. Search team member Louise Holmes said her sniffer dog led her into the woods where she "could see a body slumped against the bottom of a tree".

Miss Holmes said she could see blood on the left arm and side and she could also see "that he was dead and there was nothing I could do to help him". She and a colleague alerted the police.

Dr Kelly's body was lying against a tree in a small clearing 70 yards into a wood at one of his favourite spots on Harrowdown Hill.

Pc Andrew Franklyn said: "He was lying on his back with his right hand to his side and his left hand inverted with his palm facing down.

"There was a fair amount of blood on his left wrist and hand and a fair amount puddled around on the ground.

"His wrist watch was lying away from the body next to a knife and an opened small bottle of water.

"The knife blade was open, it was some sort of lock knife, and had a slight curve to the blade which was three to four inches long and there was blood on the blade. From the description and photograph given to us I believed it was Dr David Kelly."

Paramedics arrived within two minutes and pronounced Dr Kelly dead at 10.07am.

The officer's colleague, Pc Martyn Sawyer, took photographs of the corpse as they had found it.

James Dingemans, QC, counsel for the inquiry said: "For obvious reasons they are not being published."

Pc Sawyer added: "When I first saw Dr Kelly, I was very aware of the serious nature of the search and I was looking for signs of perhaps a struggle, but all the undergrowth that was surrounding Dr Kelly's body was standing upright and there was no sign of any form of struggle at all."

A police team carried out fingertip searches of the entire area around the body. Dr Kelly had walked as far as he could into the most isolated area of the woods.

Pc Sawyer said he had tried to retrace the scientist's last steps. "He had moved up through the woods to the last area where there was clear access," he said.

When I went that way it was impossible to go any further as the footpaths were so overgrown nobody had been through them for a number of months."

Detective Sergeant Hugh Webb carried out a "cursory" search of Dr Kelly's study. He found in a briefcase an unopened letter from 10 days previously from the MoD's personnel director Richard Hatfield to Dr Kelly headed "Discussions with the media."

The officer said the Kelly family remained "upbeat and hopeful" during the search that no harm had come to the weapons expert.

©Copyright 2003, This is London (UK)

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