Saturday, September 04, 2010

High Court inquest judgement sought

Doctors demand David Kelly inquest

A group of leading doctors will go to the high court next week in an attempt to force an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.

By Nick Collins

Published: 8:20AM BST 04 Sep 2010

The six doctors claim it is not possible to prove that Dr Kelly committed suicide based on the medical information available.

They want to obtain a court ruling that would require Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, to seek a new inquest. Mr Grieve's request would also need High Court approval.

The doctors, who began their legal action last December, argue an inquest should take place because the medical evidence into the government weapons inspector's death has never been discussed publicly. Although an inquest was opened, it was adjourned due to the Hutton inquiry and has never resumed. Lord Falconer, then the Lord Chancellor, decided not to resume it, arguing that the Hutton Inquiry was sufficient.

Hopes an inquest would finally take place were raised after Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, asked to review medical documents relating to the death of Dr Kelly.

Mr Grieve said an inquest would only be allowed to take place in the event that new evidence is found.

The doctors appealing for an inquest, all experts in trauma and vascular surgery, are Dr Stephen Frost; Dr Martin Birnstingl; Dr David Halpin; Dr Andrew Rouse; Dr Christopher Burns-Cox; and Dr Michael Powers QC.

Frances Swaine, a solicitor representing all of the doctors except Dr Powers, insisted they were motivated by "professional integrity" and that the Hutton inquiry's verdict that Dr Kelly bled to death after cutting his wrist was not sufficiently proved.

The inquiry, commissioned by then Prime Minister Tony Blair and led by Lord Hutton, found that Dr Kelly committed suicide in woods near his home in Oxfordshire in July 2003.

His death followed the disclosure that he was the source behind claims that the Government "sexed up" a dossier on potential weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Ms Swaine said: "They think it outrageous that this view has simply been accepted without examination.

"We have not seen any evidence that Dr Kelly bled to death in the way Lord Hutton thought likely."

In a separate move, the doctors have also requested permission to examine medical documentation related to Dr Kelly's death.

Lord Hutton initially ruled that medical documents relating to the death would be kept secret for 70 years, but has indicated he will not block their publication.

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, is expected to give the doctors an answer next week.

Ms Swaine claimed the arrival at a verdict of suicide without proper examination of the medical evidence was uncommon, adding: "The post-mortem report was seen by Lord Hutton but so far as we know, never considered, at least not at the inquiry."

Last month a separate group of nine doctors voiced concerns that Dr Kelly could not have died from cutting the small ulnar artery in his wrist.

The Attorney General's spokesman confirmed legal papers had been submitted to the Ministry of Justice.


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