Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dominic Grieve interviewed

Attorney General will step in to end speculation over David Kelly death

The Attorney General has signalled that he is prepared to intervene in the controversy over the death of Dr David Kelly, admitting that those who doubted his suicide “may have a valid point”.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor

Published: 11:14PM BST 18 Aug 2010

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dominic Grieve said he hoped to settle any concerns about the government scientist’s death to “give the public reassurance”.

His remarks raise the prospect that a full inquest, which could see Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and other senior Labour figures questioned in public, could finally be held. But the Attorney General said that before he applied for such a hearing he would need convincing evidence that the weapons expert had not committed suicide.

Dr Kelly’s body was found in a wood near his home in Oxfordshire in July 2003, shortly after he had been exposed as the source of a BBC report which said the government had exaggerated the grounds for the war in Iraq.

Rather than the usual inquest, his death led to an inquiry by Lord Hutton which concluded that he had killed himself, using a knife to cut his wrist and taking an overdose of painkillers.

But conspiracy theorists have suggested there may be more to his death, particularly as Lord Hutton ordered that the results of the post mortem examination remain secret for 70 years.

Senior politicians and doctors have now called for a full inquest to examine in public how the scientist came to die.

Mr Grieve said: “We would like to resolve this in a way that can give the public reassurance.”

He added: “People who have expressed concerns about why Lord Hutton did not tie up every loose end may have a valid point.”

Concerns over Dr Kelly’s death intensified last week, when a group of doctors signed a letter stating that the official explanation was “extremely unlikely”.

The principal cause was given as bleeding from a severed ulnar artery, a finding which the group argued was unsafe.

Det Con Graham Coe, who found the body, also said earlier this month that there had not been much blood at the scene. Calls for an inquest have come from the former Labour defence minister Peter Kilfoyle and the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker. At the weekend, Lord Howard of Lympne, the former Conservative leader, added his voice.

Dr Andrew Davison, a Home Office pathologist, responded by saying that the circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death were “not a game of Cluedo” and should be left to the experts.

Because a full inquest was never carried out, Mr Grieve is able to apply to the High Court for one as the most senior legal officer in England and Wales, under Section 13 of the 1988 Coroners’ Act. Normally, this is done on behalf of the deceased’s family.

However, Mr Grieve said he could not apply on a “hunch” and had to take account of the feelings of Dr Kelly’s close family, who have not called for a fresh investigation.

A High Court judge would only agree to order an inquest if Mr Grieve could prove such a course was in the interests of justice.

“I have been given no evidence to suggest an alternative cause of death,” Mr Grieve said.

“If new evidence is put to me I can consider if an application should be made to the High Court that a fresh inquest goes ahead.” Mr Grieve said he was unable to take any action until Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, decided whether to release a number of key documents from an archive used by Lord Hutton for his report.

Their release was requested by the doctors who raised their concerns last week.

The archive includes Dr Kelly’s post mortem examination report, which Lord Hutton ordered sealed “in view of the distress that could be caused to Dr Kelly’s wife and daughters”.

The request was under consideration, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.


Post a Comment

<< Home