Saturday, October 30, 2010

Overdose evidence disputed

Kelly's death 'was NOT caused by an overdose': Drugs expert dismisses theory on weapons inspector

By Miles Goslett

Last updated at 12:47 AM on 30th October 2010

A medical expert claims he has conclusive new evidence that Dr David Kelly’s death could not have been caused – or even hastened – by an overdose of painkillers.

The post mortem on the weapons expert said he had taken up to 29 tablets of co-proxamol, and the supposed overdose was listed as a contributory cause of death.

But Dr Andrew Watt, a clinical pharmacologist, said the evidence suggested Dr Kelly could not have taken more than two tablets.

Dr Watt said he had studied all available material, including the toxicology report published by the Government last week, and used a simple mathematical formula to work out how much co-proxamol had entered his body before death.

Based on his body weight, the amount of water his body is likely to have contained, and the strength of the tablets, Dr Watt said it was not ‘accurate or reliable’ to suggest Dr Kelly had absorbed more than a ‘therapeutic dose’ of the medicine – in this case about two pills.

Dr Kelly’s body was found in woods close to his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 shortly after he was unmasked as the source of a BBC report claiming the government ‘sexed up’ a dossier on Iraq’s weapons.

Three blister packs of co-proxamol, each capable of holding ten tablets, were found in his coat pocket. Only one tablet remained. The official toxicologist, Alexander Allan, was unable to specify how many pills Dr Kelly had taken but tests showed he had less than a fifth of one tablet in his stomach.

Lord Hutton, who chaired the public inquiry into his death, found that he killed himself after cutting his wrist and taking ‘an excess amount of co-proxamol tablets’. Co-proxamol ingestion is also listed as a cause of death on Dr Kelly’s death certificate.

Unusually, there has never been a full coroner’s inquest.

Dr Watt has written to the Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, outlining his findings and urging him to ask an independent specialist to investigate his claims.

In the letter, seen by the Mail, Dr Watt said: ‘The hard data points which exist relating to the alleged “overdose” are consistent with Dr. Kelly absorbing approximately two tablets . . . the possibility of the co-proxamol “hastening death” is, in my view, not credible.’

Dr Watt, who was a senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, is the latest physician to question the official version of how Dr Kelly died.

A group of doctors have formally applied to Attorney General Dominic Grieve for a full inquest.

Dr Michael Powers QC, representing the group, said: ‘Dr Watt makes a very important point. The number of tablets ingested and what was measured in the blood has never been satisfactorily explained.’


Anonymous Michael Dawson said...

Mr Simon, thank you for reproducing the items relating to Dr Kelly's death. I must admit that it's only recently (following the pathologists report publication) that I've really taken an interest in this matter. It seems to me that what Andrew Watt is saying is very reasonable but I notice that as yet you haven't commented. What is your opinion about it all? Perhaps the fairest thing is to have a proper inquest.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Andrew Simon said...

Hello Michael - (just for the record I'm not actually Mr Simon, it's just that I blog using less than my full name) - I tend to think that a new inquest might not reveal as much as some would think.

There seems to be an expectation that the evidence as presented by Lord Hutton should have been much fuller than it actually was. Andrew Watt argues that this represents 'Insufficiency of Inquiry', where I would suggest that all the evidence WAS seen by Hutton and that he was selective in what he chose to publicly discuss in order to protect the Kelly family.

It is clear that a number of potentially important witnesses were not heard at the Inquiry, but the question remains as whether any part of their statements or testimony would have materially affected Hutton's conclusions.

If there were to be a new inquest would it (should it?) investigate the suggestions that Dr Kelly was murdered? There seems to me to be very little to suggest this actually happened, although much has been made about the supposed 'anomalies' that exist in the record as written by Lord Hutton. It could well be that no standard of absolute proof could ever be met for some of those who dispute the official findings, despite the fact that they may be completely wrong in their assertions.

If any new inquest might be forced to find for an open verdict, would this do the wider memory of Dr Kelly any great favours?

7:44 PM  

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