At the start of the week the Daily Mail ran a headline saying only 20% of people thought David Kelly committed suicide. The Mail claimed it was an overwhelming rejection of the official verdict – it wasn’t actually quite as overwhelming as it seems, by only mentioning the 20% the Mail implied that a large percentage of people thought he didn’t commit suicide, in fact a large majority of people told Harris they didn’t know whether David Kelly committed suicide or not, the proportion of people who disagreed with the statement that he committed suicide was only around 22% (the tables aren’t on the Harris website anymore, so I’m taking the figure from memory – apologies if it’s a point or two out). The Mail could equally have headlined the poll report “1 in 5 disagree that David Kelly committed suicide”. Though actually, that itself would still have been quite a striking finding.

The way Harris asked the question on David Kelly was perfectly valid, but considering alternatives I thought their way was quite likely to show a high score for people rejecting the suicide explanation – it is likely to be easier for a respondent to say they disagree that Kelly committed suicide than to actually say he was murdered as part of some conspiracy. The proportion of people who thought David Kelly was murdered would surely be lower than 22% if asked outright? So we asked.

We ran a question on the YouGov daily polling and reasking the question YouGov first asked back in 2003 during the Hutton inquiry. Now, I don’t think the wording YouGov used is perfect either. For starters, if I was writing it from scratch, I’d have given people the option of saying other or none of these. However, since YouGov had asked the question back in 2003 I wanted to use the same wording to draw direct changes.

Back in 2003 11% of people thought that David Kelly was murdered, 75% that he committed suicide (most thinking he had done so due to the pressure placed upon him) – given it was at the height of the controversey, only 14% said don’t know. Looking at the same question now 30% of people think David Kelly was murdered, 32% think he committed suicide and 38% don’t know – meaning in the 7 years since his death the proportion of people thinking he was murdered has almost tripled. The Daily Mail’s headline was rather sensationalist, but the underlying fact is that a large minority of people do indeed think Kelly was murdered.

Not of course, lest I be misunderstood, that this makes it any more likely that he was.


806 Responses to “30% think Dr David Kelly was murdered”

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  1. @ROLAND HAINES

    But we are talking about a French driver! ;-)

  2. @VALERIE
    Lets take the sainted one out of the picture. Lets say whilst in the Bullingdon Georgie and Dave used to go to Birmingham on the train and pickup under age rentboys for homosexual acts that were very dangerous. Fred Biscuit of the News of the World publishes this story and within 3 days falls down the stairs and breaks his neck in 12 places. Now you can see a conspiracy can you not.

  3. If I was a killer trying to make murder look like suicide, I’d come equipped with something a darn site more effective & believable than “a blunt gardening tool”.

    Really… what on earth was the ‘killer’ thinking? How unprofessional! 8-)

  4. @GARY
    There has been enough inexcusable racism on here today thank you. I criticized the Scots.

  5. @ Roland

    Fred Biscuit would need to die BEFORE he published his story for me to even consider there might be a conspiracy. 8-)

  6. The Daily Mail thinks the Iraqi secret service had him killed, see link below, does this imply that Dr David Kelly was murdered because he knew where the weapons of mass destruction were hidden? Were the Tories involved?

    killed http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1302939/Dr-David-Kelly-hitlist-says-UN-weapons-expert-calls-grow-inquest.html

  7. @Roland

    I put the question in all seriousness.

    My feeling, when it happened, was that David Kelly’s death was the last thing Blair and Campbell wanted to happen. I thought their manner, when being asked about it, said it all.

    As Amber says, if the murderers wanted to fake a suicide, they would not have left a blunt instrument!

    I had been going to post that it all sounds like the conspiracy theories around Di’s death, but clearly some people still believe she was murdered.

    But then some people believe Neil Armstrong never landed on the moon.

  8. @ROLAND HAINES
    I was not insulting the French I was mealy stereotyping them, it’s what we English do (more stereotyping)

  9. Anthony
    If you want this site to be a conduit for the sleaziest of racism that is up to you but I think you should look at the name. Their doesn’t seem to be much uk about it

  10. I have a few thoughts on this.

    a) I make it a practice never to form a strong opinion about something I know nothing about. I haven’t personally read any of the evidence about the death of Dr Kelly. I would never therefore say “He was murdered” or even “He killed himself”. I don’t know.

    b) It is very common when someone kills themself without leaving a note for the family/friends/colleagues to utterly refuse to believe that they would have done such a thing, even where the evidence gathered strongly points in that direction. I have personally been on two “re-investigation” enquiries where suicides were looked at as possible homicides and this was a major issue both times.

    c) It is very common when someone does something extreme, like murder, rape, suicide etc for those closest to them to have absolutely no idea that they would/could/were going to do such a thing. I was for a time on a unit that investigated familial child killings, including child murder-suicides (parent kills child then kills self). You might think that someone who is about to murder a child they love dearly and then slash several of their own arteries would show some hint of that. Not necessarily. That man’s wife said “well, he was a bit worried about going bald, but that’s about it”.

    d) It is very common for the motive (or a contributing motive) for suicide to be “teaching someone a lesson” or “sticking it to them”. This is most common in suicides by people in failed relationships, or who suffer work stress. But it could equally apply to Dr Kelly. If he was hurt and angry at how he was treated this could be a motive. He may not even have particularly wanted to die, but felt that to do so in bizarre and suspicious circumstances would be “One in the eye” for his persecutors. That could explain why a decent and knowledgeable man would fail to leave a suicide note (which, done right, can be a real comfort to those left behind) and would choose a protracted and painful method (because the more civilised ones are usually less mysterious).

    e) Even if the death was suicide, then it wouldn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t the government’s (or more specifically Alastair Campbell’s) fault.

    f) there is a principle (in the police at least) that the loss of a human life is so important that it is reasonable to spend what might seem like disproportionate time and money on explaining it, even if there is no “benefit”. It is a perfectly reasonable ambition for people to want a proper explanation for how Kelly came to die, without having any particular suspicion that he was murdered.

  11. Does anyone think Kelly might have killed himself after GB told Tony he wanted to be PM!

  12. WAYNE

    Vastly unpleasant joke – worried that you are going down the Roland Haines road of gratuitous unpleasantness.

  13. Change of subject. But interesting.
    Nick Clegg – “The Liberal Democrats aren’t a sort of glorified form of the Electoral Reform Society”
    He said the coalition will survive even if the AV referendum is lost.

  14. DavidB

    I will take no lectures from thowt!

  15. Valerie

    “Who did it and what was their motive?”

    Yes that is the question.

    If it turns out he was murdered the answer to it will be dynamite.

    But I can’t see how an enquiry can go further than a verdict that he was unlikely to have killed himself-for given reasons.

    I’m not sure where that gets us to though.

  16. @GARY
    You do exactly what you like my lad, a dig at the French is always good sport. I was merely laughing at the the mentality of certain posters. I tell you one thing, I don’t know if the Queen could raise followers on this board, but Cromwell certainly could.

  17. @WAYNE
    To use Dr Kellys death as part of a joke is naughty. However, if the punch line had been “because he foresaw Cameron was going to be PM” it would have been so much more acceptable to David B.

  18. Anthony,

    Thanks for that. I have always been under the impression MoE started at something like 5% for 500 and worked on inverted proportion… say to something like 3% for c.1000…… nevermind.

  19. @VALERIE
    I seriously have no idea Valerie. I don’t know how Blair and Campbell reacted, to long ago, but Blair is a better actor than Daniel Day-Lewis anyway. The point is there are many factors and factions, nutters, Iraqi religious nutters, its anyone’s guess. I repeat the timing that bothers me and the convenience.

  20. @ Julian Gilbert

    Nick Clegg – “The Liberal Democrats aren’t a sort of glorified form of the Electoral Reform Society”
    He said the coalition will survive even if the AV referendum is lost.
    ——————————————————–
    Nick Clegg will say the coalition survives, whatever the hypothesis is. We could while away a long journey trying to think of a suitably outrageous circumstance that would force Clegg to say the coalition would fail. 8-)

  21. Landlords raised their rents for the sixth consecutive month as demand increased and supply was squeezed, the poll by LSL Property Services found.

    Average monthly rent amounted to £676, although this would pay for renting different-sized properties in different parts of the UK.

    ___
    £676? Holy moly…

  22. @ Barney & DavidB

    I have decided to leave Roland & Wayne to be as unpleasant as they wish to be. It is playground stuff & they are simply attention seeking.

    I am not going to rise to it, despite being Scottish & liking Gordon Brown. 8-)

  23. @ Éoin

    £676? Holy moly…
    ———————————
    That would get you a fairly average one bedroom flat in Edinburgh. 8-)

  24. To be honest, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he was murdered. Then again, I concur with Neil A, in that as I am ignorant of most of the facts of the case, I am in no position to say what is (or isn’t) likely to have happened. The same goes with anyone who has not been directly involved in the case. Therefore, I’d be one of the many ‘don’t knows’.

    It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the results by political allegiance. I suspect the vast majority of Labourites believe he committed suicide, whereas Tories, Libs and others are more likely to think he was murdered.

  25. Amber

    Gees…. how do people save for a mortgage?

  26. @AMBER
    Other leading LDs, Vince, that idiot Hughes and few followers going behind Cleggs back and trying to get off with Labour? The economic strategy, causing all the massive problems you foresee. A lot of bad press about cuts to social services and yet the Tories force Trident through. Always keep in mind, if every LD voted with Labour, the Torys would still have most votes.

    I am not sure any of these would end it, except perhaps the economy stupid.

  27. @ Éoin

    They can’t save at all, parents & grandparents have to help out or they will be renting forever. 8-)

  28. @AMBER -“….think of a suitably outrageous circumstance that would force Clegg to say the coalition would fail.”

    Mmm. That’s an idea. Let me see.

    As part of a citizenship test, the Tories propose all EU citizens (eg Spanish) living in Britain have to swear on oath they like British food?

    That should do it.

  29. @EOIN CLARKE

    They write books about conspiracies and sell them to gullible people.

  30. @Amber,

    “They can’t save at all, parents & grandparents have to help out or they will be renting forever.”

    That’s only if the government hasn’t already fleeced the said parents/grandparents of their savings/property.8-)

  31. Gary M,

    Sadly, and i do mean sadly, the gullible people are those who think it not possible… You honestly think it would be difficult to bump of a scientist in his forest? Gary M, I know more than a hunred women who have executed missions much more sophisticated than that… in Belfast alone the have been more than 300 such women since the seventies… If someone wanted him dead, it would be very hard to do it at all…

  32. @ Roland

    I believe Nick Clegg would want to carry on, regardless.
    I think it would take something like the Iraq war & a revolt by the entire Dem membership to shift him. 8-)

  33. Amber,

    thanks for that…

    On your other point- Clegg is in for the long haul- parhpas a decade if he can pull it off… I suggest one and all get used to it…

    If AV and Holyrood go belly up then we’ll all meet again at next year’s conference season and see where we stand? They only way it will end will be if some yellow stitches him up.

  34. @ Julian

    That’s exactly the kind of circumstance I was thinking of – to have an amusing hour or two. :-)

    Roland took me into a more serious consideration of the subject. 8-)

  35. @Amber,

    Is it me, or does NC remind you of a dodgy used car salesman?

  36. @ Matt

    That’s only if the government hasn’t already fleeced the said parents/grandparents of their savings/property.
    ——————————————————
    In some ways, it might be fairer if the government did a little more of that.

    The way it is now, those who don’t have wealthy parents or grandparents are at a disadvantage through no fault of their own. 8-)

  37. John Prescott -candidate for Labour Party Treasurer- warned the party that it is £20m in debt, “on the verge of bankruptcy” and must learn to campaign in smarter and more cost-effective ways if it is ever to restore its battered finances and take on the Conservatives again.

    Crucial to this reform , he said , is the need to boost the role of the party treasurer, “to hold the leadership to account in unnecessarily spending money we don’t have,”

    Absolutely priceless ;-)

  38. @ Matt

    Yes Nicky Clegg does remind me of a pushy salesman; he always has. New German cars rather than second hand ones, though. 8-)

  39. In 1953 apparently the majority of voters thought that the Queen descended directly from God.

    This latest poll does not suggest to me that we have moved very further forward.

    Before you rush to the keyboard, I know some of you think we all are.

    Mind you, today I learned that, disappointingly, a hero of mine, Lord Dowding, believed in fairies (luckily some years after he won the Battle of Britain).

  40. Colin,

    Thanks for that snippet… He always brings a smile does Champagne Prezza. Won’t you lot appoint him to something for us?

    Mind you he tanked Hague in parliamentry qs on one occasion,. That also brought a smile.

  41. NC is a yellow tory, he will not pull out of the coalition IMO, but the Lib Dems could oust him. Then either run the gauntlet of another election or a coalition with Labour. I think that this is the way the LibDems could regain percentages in the opinion polls as well. Not sure on the mechanism for ousting a LibDem leader though.

  42. Amber
    He and DC are made for each other then.

  43. Amber -he does-the best thing about those long dark days that are fading from memory was Prezza mangling the language in public.

    But I guess he is right about this ( pity he didn’t teach Gordon the principle though)-so presumably your lot will appoint him treasurer to sort it out.

  44. AMBER STAR
    You and I have posted on here for sometime now. Although we are political opponents I am not aware we have ever “fallen out”. This word Racist which your friend and countryman is so very fond of is or would be insulting if it were not so stupid. I have a perfect right to believe that England pays far to much money to support Scotland. I could be wrong, Mr Crockett should prove me wrong if he doesn’t like it. Having that view does not make me a Racist. Likewise when your countryman called Afghanistan a 13 century country he was absolutely right. My son says its ninth century.
    This does not make my son or Dr Fox Racists.
    I respectfully suggest you use your influence among Labour supporters to consider what a racist is and to use the word more advisedly.

  45. @Amber,

    I predict there’ll be less people owning in the future, and more people seeking council housing. Renting is too expensive, especially in many areas in Southern England, too. I know I’ve given up on the home ownership malarkey. Home ownership is only for the wealthier 20 and 30 somethings.

    I predict the next generation will just blow their savings/house if they think the government will get their mits on it. Our generation (and the middle age one, to a lesser degree) just ain’t as proud and frugal as the current elderly, who have a fear of being a burden and getting in debt. We’ll just spend on credit as the current culture dictates.

  46. OOPS-sorry Eoin -a reply to you, not Amber.

  47. That’s why I shall never save for old age.8-) Today is for living.

  48. @ Colin

    Don’t get too excited about the Labour party finances, the Tories were almost bankrupt too, until Lord Ashcroft & co. saved the day.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article113704 8. ece

    INDEPENDENT auditors are refusing to sign off the Conservative Party’s accounts because they fear that it is no longer a going concern.
    PricewaterhouseCoopers, which must approve the accounts within weeks, has told Tory officials that there is not enough income to guarantee the party’s viability

  49. @Amber,

    “Yes Nicky Clegg does remind me of a pushy salesman; he always has. New German cars rather than second hand ones, though. 8-)”

    LOL. I certainly wouldn’t trust him with my money!

  50. @ Colin

    Don’t get too excited about the Labour party finances, the Tories were almost bankrupt too, until Lord Ashcroft & co. saved the day.

    The post with the link will be out of mod in due course, meanwhile here is the first paragraph:

    INDEPENDENT auditors are refusing to sign off the Conservative Party’s accounts because they fear that it is no longer a going concern.
    PricewaterhouseCoopers, which must approve the accounts within weeks, has told Tory officials that there is not enough income to guarantee the party’s viability.

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