Friday, August 27, 2010


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Letters: Perspectives on David Kelly's death

Friday, 27 August 2010

This is far from 'a textbook case'

The pathologist who examined Dr David Kelly has been widely reported as saying that his death was a "textbook" case of suicide. This depends very much on the textbook.

In a textbook of physical pathology, Dr Kelly's injuries might well provide an exemplar of a suicide by wrist-cutting. But from a psychiatric epidemiological perspective, a different picture presents itself.

Wrist-cutting is such an unusual form of suicide that it is not recorded separately in national statistics, but is lumped together with other uncommon suicide methods involving self-stabbing.

In men of Dr Kelly's age in the UK who kill themselves, less than 3 per cent do so by using any sort of sharp implement. A much smaller number will therefore have actually cut their wrists. So, the physical pathological findings might be typical, but typical of a rare event.

Of course, Dr Kelly's death may still indeed have been a suicide. But, compared with most suicides, his case is neither representative nor characteristic. It is so unusual that it surely justifies a full and open public inquiry.

Dr Philip Timms FRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Inquest is a legal right

Paul Vallely (21 August) gives a generally tranquillising overview of the unnatural death of David Kelly. The main concerns of medical doctors must be not about murder theories but the following. First, there is grave doubt that he could have died as decided by Hutton and as recorded on the death certificate. Second, the diagnosis of suicide is not proven in law; there is no evidence of intent.

And third, the system of inquiry used by Lord Falconer to investigate the death was not the proper way legally to investigate a single unnatural death. The proper procedure is a coroner's inquest, with or without a jury, with witnesses subpoenaed, giving evidence under oath and being fully interrogated.

Paul Vallely shows a very poor undertanding of and respect for the vital importance of the rule of law in suggesting that the decision about a coroner's inquest be left to the family and not to correct due legal process. John Locke stated, "Where law ends, tyranny begins". Just so.

Dr C J Burns-Cox, Consultant Physician, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire

Pathologist 'trying to stop inquiry into Dr David Kelly's death'

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 11:49 PM on 26th August 20

Ministers faced renewed calls for an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly last night.

A group of five doctors accused the pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination on Dr Kelly of trying to prevent further investigation.

Dr Nicholas Hunt insists the death of weapons expert Dr Kelly was a 'textbook case' of suicide.

The five doctors have written to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke saying Dr Hunt was wrong to publish confidential evidence that the Government is still refusing to release.

Trauma surgeon David Halpin, radiologist Stephen Frost, vascular surgeon Martin Birnstingl, epidemiologist Andrew Rouse, and internal medicine specialist Christopher Burns-Cox have been calling for an inquest for more than five years.

They said it was 'highly irregular' for Dr Hunt to have discussed autopsy details which have not been placed before a coroner.

In their letter to Mr Clarke they say Dr Hunt's comments appear to be part of an officially sanctioned attempt to silence the clamour for a full inquest.

Dr Kelly was found dead in 2003, shortly after he was named as the source of stories the Government had 'sexed up' its report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The doctors say he could not have killed himself by slitting his wrist as claimed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even a textbook example of a cry-for-help slashed wrist "SUICIDE ATTEMPT" might have resulted in fingerprints on the knife, however blunt it might have been. And were there any fingerprints of Dr Kelly on that bottle of Evian water on which Hutton was so focussed or even those almost empty blister packs of Coproxamol?

6:33 AM  

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