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Last Whimper of a Conspiracy Theory

John Rentoul

Norman Baker 415 300x218 Last Whimper of a Conspiracy TheoryThe 10th anniversary of the death of David Kelly might have been an occasion to restore some balance to the debate about the Iraq war, which I have tried to do in the updated edition of my biography of Tony Blair (there is an extract here; download the e-book here or buy the paperback here).

In The Independent on Sunday, however, I have taken part in an unsatisfactory debate with Miles Goslett, who persists in propounding the conspiracy theory that Dr Kelly was murdered.

I say unsatisfactory because I felt Goslett refused to engage with the starting point of his case, which is that his demand for a new inquest presumes that murder was a serious possibility. It is frustrating trying to engage with someone who talks about the supposed absence of fingerprints and other details without explaining why he thinks they matter.

It is notable that all the names who have lent their meagre credibility to this tasteless business have fallen silent on the matter. But let us just remind ourselves of a selection of them: Norman Baker, the transport minister (pictured), Peter Oborne, Melanie PhillipsRichard Ingrams, Michael Howard and Paul Routledge.

The Mail on Sunday has published on its news pages, meanwhile, an article by Goslett, which argues that the Hutton inquiry was flawed because the judge was appointed too quickly. No, me neither.

Appended to this article is a comment by Simon Walters, the Mail on Sunday’s political editor, who accepts that Dr Kelly took his own life, but propounds the conventional view that he was driven to it by “New Labour”. This is harder to rebut because it is widely believed and not transparently potty, but I don’t think it is right.

I refer any fair-minded person to the relevant parts of the Hutton Report about the Government’s role in Dr Kelly’s name becoming public. The facts that matter are that Dr Kelly had caused the BBC to publish an untrue and damaging story; that he was bound to be held to account for it; and that, if he was “hounded”, it was by journalists.

Tom Mangold, meanwhile, had a sensible article about the conspiracy theory in yesterday’s Independent, even if he does subscribe to the lazy journalistic assumption about George Bush and Tony Blair looking for “an excuse” for invading Iraq – but that is part of the intelligent debate about Iraq to which I referred at the start.

Previously on the Kelly murder conspiracy theory from this blog.

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  • PurbeckPashmina

    No it’s pork fraught.

  • mightymark

    You only prove the point by adopting the “Zanulabour” type phraseology. It is a feature of conspiracy theorists that they tend to adopt what they see as a “jokey” (of course it actually isn’t) language for those “in the know”. But then as I have said elsewhere here, you probably just can’t help it – poor dears.

  • porkfright

    There is just the slightest of wee possibilities.

  • Bill Benson

    Mr Rentoul told everyone that ‘he doesn’t know and he doesn’t care’ about the lack of fingerprints. That’s the end of it. No more to be said. That’s the end of argument. Move on.

    He’d make a great copper in the Met.

  • mrssbeeston

    Mr Rentoul, the debate with Miles Goslett is ‘unsatisfactory’ only because you do not win the argument.

  • Paul S HK

    Mr Rentoul is spectacularly non-intellectual.
    He does not understand that if a judge is appointed within three hours of a death and before it is public, that implies prior knowledge (that may be a wrong implication, but it is really, really not incomprehensible). And cutting out the coroners inquest thereby does look suspicious… Without commenting on the absolute evidence for suspicion…
    Fingerprints don’t matter.. Duhhh… Is Mr Rentoul serious???
    The BBC published an untrue and damaging story…
    Is Mr Rentoul a mere blogger, or a simpleton… Even Sir Richerd Dearlove, ex head of SIS, has made clear that the BBC was right.
    We will find all that I write is true when Chilcot is published.
    But until then we will simply have to smile at the sImpleton Rentoul, who still, despite ample evidence, believes the Iraq War arose because Tony Blair feared we would be exposed to Saddam Hussein arming Al Qaeda…
    Sorry, you mean he did believe it, but didn’t think we would, so decided to bamboozle us with 45 minutes to destruction…
    Hmmm…

    I suppose fomenting war because you sincerely believe something your fellow citizens will not, is sort of OK if you run Panama.. But in a UK PM..?

    Mr Rentoul, that is why TB aka ‘The Man’ is despised.

    That is why we all look forward to Chilcot’s findings.


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