Mr. G. Robert Blakey,
chief counsel and director,
Select Committee on Assassinations,
Kennedy deaths statistics--
The Sunday Times,
February 26, 1967.
The Editor has passed me your letter of 25th April.
Our piece about the odds against the deaths of the Kennedy witnesses was, I regret to say, based On a careless journalistic mistake and should not have been published. This was realized by The Sunday Times' editorial staff after the first edition--the one which goes to the United States and which I believe you have--had gone out, and later editions were amended.
There was no question of our actuary having got his answer wrong: It was simply that we asked him the wrong question. He was asked what were the odds against 15 named people out of the population of the United States dying within a short period of time to which he replied--correctly--that they were very high. However, if one asks what are the odds against 15 of those included in the Warren Commission index dying within a given period, the answer is, of course, that they are much lower. Our mistake was to treat the reply to the former question as if it dealt with the latter--hence the fundamental error in our first edition report, for which we apologize.
None of the editorial staff involved in this story can remember the name of the actuary we consulted, but in view of what happened you will, I imagine, agree that his identity is hardly material.