Tricycle Finds Drama in Government's Dr Kelly CrisisDate: 12 August 2003
Transcripts from the unfolding Hutton Inquiry, which has been set up to investigate the death of government arms advisor Dr David Kelly, will form the basis of a new stage production this autumn. A dramatisation of edited transcripts from the public hearings, Justifying War will run at north London's Tricycle Theatre from 4 November to 6 December 2003 (previews from 30 October).
The production follows the Tricycle's earlier stagings of the Nuremberg trials, the Scott Arms to Iraq Inquiry, the Hague hearings on the Srebrenica massacre and, most famously, the Stephen Lawrence murder trial. The last, titled The Colour of Justice, toured the country and had a short West End run, in addition to being broadcast on the BBC.
For Justifying War, court transcripts will once again be edited by Richard Norton-Taylor, a journalist who has been reporting on the current Inquiry for the Guardian newspaper, and the stage reconstruction will be directed by Tricycle artistic director Nicolas Kent.
Within 24 hours of Dr Kelly's suicide last month, the Government set up a public inquiry and Lord Hutton (a senior Law Lord) was appointed to conduct it. At the first public hearing on 1 August 2003, Hutton made it clear that his inquiry will be wide-reaching and that he intended to get to the truth behind the events that led to the death of Kelly, who was named as a crucial source for BBC reports on allegedly misguided evidence the Government used to justify the recent war in Iraq.
The Hutton Inquiry will call witnesses including civil servants from the Ministry of Defence and 10 Downing Street, Dr Kelly's widow and daughter, the BBC's Andrew Gilligan and chairman Gavyn Davies, government spokesman Alistair Campbell and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon as well as Prime Minister Tony Blair himself (pictured).
It's expected that the Government's case for war will come under heavy scrutiny. However, despite the public interest and a petition to lift the usual ban on televising court proceedings, the Inquiry will not be broadcast.
Commenting on the ban, Norton-Taylor said: "The Hutton Inquiry was set up as a result of a human tragedy. Its investigation will go to the heart of government and how it treated one of its top advisors on chemical and biological weapons, the central issue behind the decision to invade Iraq. There could hardly be a more important subject to address."
Kent added: "It is our view that public inquiries should be broadcast - this was the case with both the Shipman Inquiry and the Nolan Inquiry. In an open democratic society in the 21st century, this broadcasting should be the norm, and not left to the discretion of the judge conducting the inquiry. The Tricycle stages these Inquiries precisely because they are not broadcast. We hope very soon to see the day when we no longer need to stage them, through the Government ensuring that Public Inquiries are fully available to the public in all media."
During the run of Justifying War, every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night performance in November will be followed by post-show talks and public debates to discuss the issues raised.
- by Terri Paddock