Thursday, August 19, 2010

A letter to the Guardian


Lack of Kelly inquest is a national disgrace

The Guardian, Thursday 19 August 2010

It is not a question of whether there should or should not be a proper inquest into Dr David Kelly's death (Editorial, 17 August). This is not a matter for debate. The laws of this country state very clearly that there must be an inquest into any death occurring in the manner in which Dr Kelly is said to have died.

Further, before a suicide verdict can be returned, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased intended to kill himself. In the absence of a suicide note, it is extremely difficult to achieve this level of proof. Anyone who examines the transcripts of the evidence heard by Lord Hutton can see that the required level of proof was not attained, even if Lord Hutton had heard evidence under oath, which he crucially did not.

Further, Lord Falconer inappropriately invoked Section 17a of the 1988 Coroners' Act, "ordering" the coroner Nicholas Gardiner to "adjourn indefinitely" his inquest into Dr Kelly's death on 13 August 2003. This intervention by the then lord chancellor surely constituted a blatant subversion of due process of the law.

In the case of Dr Kelly, the suicide verdict of Lord Hutton is clearly unsafe and may represent one of the gravest miscarriages of justice ever to occur in this country. A suicide verdict effectively closes the case for ever, and if the deceased was in fact murdered stops the search for the murderer(s). A suicide verdict should not be reached lightly, and if there is any doubt the coroner should return an open verdict.

The fact that no inquest has been held into Dr David Kelly's death is nothing less than a national disgrace, particularly when one recalls the context in which his death took place.

Dr Stephen Frost

Colwyn Bay, Clwyd


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