A Social Network Analysis into the David Kelly Tragedy
Connections, 26(2): 25-32 (2005)
Posted: 15 Mar 2015
Date Written: 2005
On July 18, 2003, British scientist and weapons inspector David Kelly was found dead, apparently by suicide. This tragedy capped a two-month controversy over the validity and authorship of an intelligence dossier on Iraq produced by the U.K. government. These events were investigated by a special, independent commission led by Lord Brian Hutton, called the Hutton Inquiry, and its final report was issued in January 2004.
This matter provides an excellent opportunity to study the inner workings of high levels of government because the Hutton Inquiry subpoenaed internal communications and has made them available to the public. From these documents, it is possible to construct the networks of discussion and authority behind the government’s actions. An important question in this case is who were the decision-makers that developed the strategy to release Kelly’s name to the press. The Prime Minister’s Office denied being heavily involved with this process, but the Hutton Inquiry documents reveal otherwise.
This article uses social network analysis to examine internal government communications in the Kelly affair. Social network analysis can quantify the interactions among a group of social actors. It produces measures of actors’ power and centrality in a network, and it constructs diagrams, or “network maps,” that represent the interactions and relative positions of the actors.
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