Government rejects call for new David Kelly inquiry
By Andy Tate
09 01 08
The Government has rejected calls for a new inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly following claims in a book by Lewes MP Norman Baker that he may have been murdered.
Lord Hutton's report into the death of the scientist concluded that Dr Kelly had committed suicide, but Mr Baker, in a book published late last year, said Dr Kelly was probably the victim of a group of Iraqi exiles.
Dr Kelly's comments to the journalist Andrew Gilligan about weapons in Iraq sparked a long-running row between Downing Street and the BBC which was still continuing when Dr Kelly was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003.
Labour peer Lord Berkeley said at Lords question time: "The new book by Norman Baker concludes that the suicide of Dr Kelly would be extremely unlikely and certainly not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
"The Hutton inquiry was not a statutory one and no evidence was taken under oath, so isn't it now necessary for the Government to set up a proper statutory inquiry to investigate fully the circumstances of this senior Government employee."
Lord Hutton concluded that Dr Kelly died by cutting his left wrist and taking co-proxamol painkilling tablets.
Justice Minister Lord Hunt this week described Mr Baker's book as "a good Christmas read".
But he told peers: "There was a thorough inquiry by Lord Hutton which reached the conclusion that Dr Kelly committed suicide.
"Lord Hutton was satisfied no other person was involved in the death of Dr Kelly because a very lengthy examination, of the area where his body was found, by police officers and by forensic biologists found no traces whatever of a struggle or involvement by a third party.
"And the wounds to Dr Kelly came from a knife from his study in his home and it was highly unlikely that a third party could have forced Dr Kelly to swallow a large number of co-proxamol tablets."
Mr Baker repeated calls for new inquiries into the Iraq war and Dr Kelly's death.
He said: "I am very pleased that Lord Berkeley took the decision to raise this matter in the House of Lords and to call for a new inquiry into the death of Dr Kelly.
"The Hutton Inquiry was far from thorough, as the minister claimed, but was an incomplete, flawed inquiry which left many very important questions unanswered.
"What I would like to see now is both a proper inquiry into the whole fiasco of the Iraq war, and a re-opening of the inquest into the death of the country's most eminent weapons inspector."
3:40pm Wednesday 9th January 2008http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/generalnews/
_for_new_david_kelly_inquiry.phpFrom Hansard (Crown Copyright acknowledged):
8 Jan 2008 : Column 740
Dr David Kelly
asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether, as a result of new evidence recently published, they will set up an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate in full the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly.The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath):
My Lords, we have no plans to do so.Lord Berkeley:
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer, but is he aware of the new book by Norman Baker MP, which collects a large amount of new evidence? I do not know whether he read it over the Christmas holiday, but it is quite a frightening read. It concludes that suicide by Dr Kelly would be extremely unlikely and is certainly not proven beyond reasonable doubt. As my noble friend will know, the Hutton inquiry was not statutory, and no evidence was taken under oath, so is it not now necessary for the Government to set up a proper statutory inquiry to investigate fully the circumstances of the death of this senior government employee?Lord Hunt of Kings Heath:
My Lords, I have read extracts from the report, which I would describe as a good Christmas read. There was a thorough inquiry by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hutton, who reached the conclusion that Dr Kelly committed suicide. He found that the cause of Dr Kelly's death was:
"Haemorrhage ... Incised wounds to the left wrist ... Coproxamol ingestion and coronary artery atherosclerosis".
"satisfied that no other person was involved in the death of Dr Kelly",
"A very careful and lengthy examination of the area where his body was found by police officers and by a forensic biologist found no traces whatever of a struggle or of any involvement by a third party ... The wounds to his wrist were inflicted by a knife which came from Dr Kelly's desk in his study in his home, and ... It is highly unlikely that a third party or third parties could have forced Dr Kelly to swallow a large number of Coproxamol tablets".Lord Thomas of Gresford:
My Lords, the then Lord Chancellor, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, used an exceptional power to direct the coroner not to continue with the original inquest and not to resume it unless there was an exceptional reason. The inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hutton, is the only time this provision has been used in a non-statutory inquiry. Surely the new evidence that has come to light since the Hutton inquiry and to which Mr Norman Baker refers in his book is an exceptional reason, which requires the events to be fully investigated, witnesses to be called and cross-examined and a verdict to be reached beyond reasonable doubt, just as in the current lengthy inquest relating to the Princess of Wales.
8 Jan 2008 : Column 741Lord Hunt of Kings Heath:
But, my Lords, the Hutton report was sent to the coroner at the end of the inquiry in accordance with Section 17A and, in an open court hearing on 14 March 2004, the coroner himself decided that there was no exceptional reason to resume the adjourned inquest. There is much supposition in the report but, if evidence there is, it is open to Mr Baker and any other person, if they wish, to seek a new inquest under Section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988.Lord Stoddart of Swindon:
My Lords, surely that is not good enough. The book by Mr Baker is well researched and shows that there is no evidence that Dr Kelly was suicidal in any way. Furthermore, Mr Baker absolves MI6 and the CIA from any blame but believes that perhaps some very nasty people in Iraq, who did not want things disclosed, might have been behind his death. Do we not owe it to Dr Kelly's wife and family to have another, thorough inquiry in the light of this new evidence?Lord Hunt of Kings Heath:
My Lords, I do not think that any of us can speculate on what Dr Kelly’s family are thinking at the present time or around the tragic circumstances of his death some years ago. I have nothing further to add. The Government believe that the inquiry by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hutton, in this matter was conclusive. The noble and learned Lord set out the reasons for his conclusion. I say again that, if any person has evidence, they can take it to the authorities—to the police—and there is a procedure for a further inquest to be held. That is surely the approach that should be taken here.http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/