The Hutton Enquiry
August 18, 2003 5:50 AM   Subscribe

The Hutton Enquiry on-line. Terms of Reference: "...urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly." Hearing transcripts and documentary evidence for your perusal.
posted by Frasermoo (14 comments total)
posted by mokey at 7:11 AM on August 18, 2003

Are we Japanese? Pardon me, but the whole thing seems to be overwrought.

1) A scientist disagrees with the government on a minor point. Pressure is applied to him by both government opponents and government supporters.

2) He freaks out and kills himself.

The only thing this says to me is that he was a frail flower, who couldn't deal with the pressure cooker he had invited himself into. Washington, D.C. is full of such people: whistleblowers, unhappy subordinates, leakers. And most of what they say really isn't that important.

Lots of people got excited when Vince Foster killed himself, but, in the final analysis, he killed himself because he couldn't deal with it *all*, not for any particular reason. There really was *no* reason, other than depression and stress, that caused it, despite what the conspiracy theorists might think.

So why is this British fella different? Couldn't he have just killed himself because he stressed out? Must we assume that he possessed the third prophecy of Fatima or something? Even if everything he proposed was *right*, so what?
posted by kablam at 9:02 AM on August 18, 2003

kablam: Even if everything he proposed was *right*, so what?

Well, it might mean that an entire country's decision to support an invasion of a sovereign state was influenced by evidence that was, at best, inaccurate.

But hey, we won! so who gives a fuck!

posted by davehat at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2003

kablam: The fact that you ask so many questions might be an indicator as to why the inquiry is happening.

Also, your point 1) is only a small part of what happened.
posted by i_cola at 9:25 AM on August 18, 2003

kablam, Dr Kelly's death made this enquiry happen, but all the events that led up to it are mind-boggling. Government accused of falsifying evidence, then they cover it up with accusations against the BBC, then the scientist kills himself. Weak flower? He'd been on over one hundred trips to Iraq, in the most hostile environments, and came out a winner. Something very odd happened to kill that scientist. And oddly, still no-one's officially confirmed it as suicide. 1 1/2 months on. Odd. As Gwyneth might have wailed, "This moment is so much bigger than Dr Kelly..."
posted by wibbler at 11:18 AM on August 18, 2003

This inquiry is the place where they will be officially confirming or not whether it was suicide. It replaces the usual coroner's inquiry.
posted by kerplunk at 11:39 AM on August 18, 2003

The site's nice, and us Mefinerds can get off on the minutae of it and all, but it could really use an overview.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:52 PM on August 18, 2003

The BBC is maintaining a good overview of the inquiry.

My favourite snippet so far :

"We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat, ... [the dossier] does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam." - Jonathan Powell, Chief of Staff.

Isn't that fairly cut and dried? How much evidence do we need that we were lied to?
posted by influx at 12:59 AM on August 19, 2003

It's not a question of whether we were lied to. It's a question of who by. And with Alisdair Campbell being interviewed in the Hutton enquiry today, I have a sneaky feeling there's going to be fingers pointed and accusations thrown.
posted by BigCalm at 1:16 AM on August 19, 2003

Well, this whole sorry affair clearly has Campbell's greasy pawprints all over it, especially after his insane "game of chicken" with the BBC - but he will be leaving Number 10 in short order anyway.

Similarly, Geoff "Who?" Hoon is clearly guilty as sin, and the New Labour machine evidently expect him to fall on his sword. But by all accounts, Hoon is not going to go quietly into the night, and will point the finger firmly at Number 10.

Which brings us to the Prime Minister. Compare Jonathan Powell's quote above to Blair's speech in the Commons 7 days later, where he asserted that Iraq posed a real and present threat to the UK and her interests.

Isn't it now absolutely beyond doubt that the PM lied to the Commons, and to the British people, over the most grave of all Governmental actions - war? I'm sure Blair thinks he can continue to scapegoat the MoD, security services, and even the Number 10 press office - but will he get away with it?
posted by influx at 1:30 AM on August 19, 2003

I think he'll resign (Tony Blair). He's got his "place in history" by ousting (sort of) Saddam and the Blairite to Brownite ratio in the cabinet is getting too strong in Gordon's favour. Whether he's waiting till after the inquiry as a mark of respect or because he wants to see how it plays depends on your level of cynicism.

He certainly looked guilty as sin in Japan when he found out about Kelly's suicide, again whether this was good acting or genuine remorse depends on how you feel about Blair.

posted by fullerine at 1:56 AM on August 19, 2003

ooops Missed out my bit about the site.

What a wonderful use of the Web. Informative, relevant and the most efficient way of disseminating this information without the pantomime of TV.
posted by fullerine at 2:02 AM on August 19, 2003

It's a brilliant site. Completely un-British, too, since 'open government' is an oxymoron here. Without it, we'd probably have to wait at least 30 years to see some of these documents, and have the news reporting on it in the same way that revelations about Heath's EEC campaign are now reported. And since the entire inquiry rests on the question of misleading or inaccurate reporting, whether of the Iraqi threat or the reporting of that reporting, it short-circuits any possible further distortion.

You wonder whether Hutton's career -- he's spent much of his time in Northern Ireland -- contributes to this. After all, there's that much murk in Ulster's recent history to make the need for clarity very apparent.
posted by riviera at 5:44 AM on August 19, 2003

Polly Toynbee has the best 'guide to the perplexed' on Hutton that I have found here.

For those not enjoying the saturation coverage in the UK there's two points to note: 1) most of the British newspapers have firmly taken sides, the Murdoch owned group excercising their tightly wound hatred of the BBC and the rest of the right-wing and liberal press seeing this as a good stick with which to beat the government (whatever their differing motivations). The Guardian seems alone in using its considerable Media operation to speak its rather troubled mind and report fairly ... but ... 2) in this regard there doesn't seem to be any such thing as fair. The BBC themselves made this point in their summing up of week one here - any two people of similar background and persuasion are likely to read the facts very differently. That's why it's become such a compelling soap-opera.
posted by grahamwell at 12:14 PM on August 19, 2003

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