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Final submissions made to AG in Kelly inquest case

Leigh Day in push for full inquest into death of Dr David Kelly

Coroner's court photo: BBC

2 March 2011

Frances Swaine, Partner and Head of the human rights department at Leigh Day, assisted by Merry Varney, solicitor in the human rights department, act on behalf of the group of doctors seeking the Attorney General’s authorisation (known as a fiat) for the group to approach the High Court to seek a full inquest into the death of Dr Kelly in July 2003.

The Attorney General invited the group of doctors to bring to his attention any further matters supporting their call for a new and full Inquest into the death following the medical submissions made by the doctors in a Memorial (the document setting out the basis on which the Attorney General’s fiat is sought) in September 2010, and the subsequent disclosure by the Ministry of Justice of the post mortem and toxicology reports.

Although our clients sought access to the post mortem and toxicology reports, both Leigh Day & our clients did not support the public disclosure of the reports in the manner that occurred.

The Addendum

An Addendum to the Memorial has now been submitted to the Attorney General in line with his invitation, highlighting many further concerns arising from the recent disclosure of the post mortem and toxicology reports, as well as setting out numerous questions and issues that remain unanswered and unaddressed by the Hutton Inquiry and that would properly be the concern of any Coroner investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly.

These further submissions focused inter alia on the following:

  • The death certificate does not give the time nor the place of death (normally fundamental to the end of a Coroner’s inquest)
  • Discrepancies between the post mortem report referring to an extended pool of blood by the body noted by the pathologist, Dr Hunt, yet not mentioned by any other attendees of the Hutton Inquiry, including those who spent time in the vicinity of the body
  • The absence of any measurements taken regarding the amount of blood that existed outside the body, which is usually standard when investigating a suspicious death and necessary to report conclusively on whether cause of death was blood loss
  • The fact that the Thames Valley Police in response to requests made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act have confirmed that no fingerprints were found or recovered from any of the items found in the vicinity of the body, including the mobile phone, the blister packs of pills, the water bottle, the watch and the pruning knife. This was not discussed by the Hutton Inquiry, despite there having been no mention of gloves found on or near the body
  • The failure of the Inquiry to hear evidence from witnesses that would properly have been called at an inquest, including one of the police detectives who attended the body, the last person reported by the media to have seen Dr Kelly on the day of this death, the forensic biologist who attended the scene for most of the day following discovery of the body, and a colleague who offered to provide evidence to Lord Hutton regarding Dr Kelly’s views on suicide and a lack of strength in his right hand and wrist.
  • The failure of the Inquiry to hear evidence from experts in any clinical discipline relating to the cause of death, including no vascular surgeon who could provide an expert opinion regarding establishing cause of death by severing the ulnar artery.
  • The disclosure of correspondence at the time of the Inquiry between the Department for Constitutional Affairs and H M Coroner, Nicholas Gardiner which refers to a preliminary cause of death “no longer represent[ing] the view of the Pathologist”, yet no reference is made in the transcripts of the Hutton Inquiry of any change of view by the Pathologist.

Frances Swaine commented that:

“The Attorney General has now received information that raises grave concerns as to the adequacy and sufficiency of the Hutton Inquiry. A suicide verdict requires indisputable evidence that a deceased physically took their own life and that the deceased had the intention to do so. In order to reach this verdict, a full and proper investigation of all the circumstances, including detailed consideration of medical reports and hearing of expert medical evidence, is required. This has not to date taken place in respect of the tragic death of Dr Kelly.”

Leigh Day & Co and our clients are aware of wide support from other eminent parties for the granting of the Attorney General’s fiat and a decision is eagerly awaited.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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