Monday, December 13, 2010

Inquest 'memorial' published

EXCLUSIVE: Published for the first time, the papers which could finally force full inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly

By Miles Goslett
Last updated at 10:46 AM on 13th December 2010

Today, the Daily Mail publishes for the first time the legal document which could trigger a full coroner's inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.

The document, formally known as a memorial was written by group of campaigning doctors who have been trying to secure an inquest since 2004.

It lists the sequence of events which led up to Dr Kelly's death and the legal reasons they believe an inquest ought to be held.

It was sent to Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC by the doctors' lawyers, Leigh Day & Co., in September. Mr Grieve, who has read the document, is now considering whether to allow an application to the High Court for an inquest. The Mail has learnt that he has recently appointed a medical expert to assist him. His decision is expected shortly.

Dr Kelly, a world-renowned weapons inspector, is said to have killed himself after being named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing Tony Blair’s government of lying to take Britain into war.

His body was found in woods close to his home in Oxfordshire on July 18 2003. Uniquely, for an unexpected death such as his, no coroner’s inquest has ever been held.

The Hutton inquiry into his death found that he killed himself after slashing his wrist with a blunt knife and overdosing on painkillers.

On Monday the Mail revealed that no fingerprints were found on the blister packs of pills which Dr Kelly supposedly took. No fingerprints were recovered either from the knife or a bottle of water found by his side. He was not wearing gloves when his body was found, nor were there gloves anywhere near the body.

The memorial argues that Dr Kelly’s death was not sufficiently investigated and claims that there are a large number of irregularities surrounding it.

It names Lord Falconer, once Tony Blair's flatmate and in June 2003 appointed Lord Chancellor, as the architect of the public inquiry into Dr Kelly's death chaired by Lord Hutton.


It was Falconer who proposed the controversial decision to abandon a coroner's inquest, where witnesses would be cross-examined under oath, and replace it with a non-statutory examination of the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly's death. As a result no witness, including Tony Blair and his press secretary Alastair Campbell, swore an oath or was cross-examined.

Dr Nicholas Hunt, the Home Office forensic pathologist who carried out the autopsy on Dr Kelly, is also criticised in the memorial for having breached professional guidelines by giving a newspaper interview earlier this year in which he called Dr Kelly's death a 'textbook suicide'. His failure to properly carry out his duties at the scene where Dr Kelly's body was found is outlined.

The memorial addresses - and answers - each of the six legal points necessary for a coroner's inquest to be re-opened. Under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 only one of these points has to be satisfied for an inquest to take place.

The 10,000-word document was co-authored by doctors Stephen Frost, Martin Birnstingl, Christopher Burns-Cox, David Halpin and Andrew Rouse.

It also requests that if an inquest is held a new coroner should be appointed to oversee it, replacing Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner.

Dr Michael Powers QC, who has been instructed to represent the doctors in their legal action, said: 'The circumstances of this case are highly unusual. Evidential issues have been debated in public for want of an inquest.

'The Attorney General's department has had three months to consider the matter. The time has come for the doctors’ Memorial also to be put into the public domain.

'It is vital that as many people as possible are aware of the process and the legal reason why there should be an inquest.'

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tony Blair returns to Inquiry

Public Ballot: Application to Attend the Public Hearing of Rt Hon Tony Blair

The Inquiry announced on 8 December that when the former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Tony Blair, gives further public evidence to the Inquiry Committee, seats in the hearing room will be allocated via a public ballot.

Given the expected high level of demand for seats in the 60-seat hearing room for this session the Inquiry has again decided that a ballot represents the best way to ensure those who wish to attend have an equal chance of doing so. As was the case when Mr Blair gave evidence to the Inquiry in January 2010, a third of the seats in the hearing room will be reserved for the families of those Armed Forces personnel and British citizens who died or are missing in Iraq; these seats will be allocated by a separate ballot.

Mr Blair’s hearing will take place over a half day between 18 January and 04 February. The exact timetable for the public hearings in 2011 will be published on the Iraq Inquiry website one week in advance, normally on a Monday.


Monday, December 06, 2010

FOIA request disclosures

Riddle of missing fingerprints on Dr David Kelly's 'overdose' pill packs

By Miles Goslett

Last updated at 11:22 PM on 5th December 2010

Fresh doubts have been raised over how Dr David Kelly died after police admitted no fingerprints were found on the packs of pills he supposedly overdosed on.

The public inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death found the weapons expert killed himself by slashing his wrist with a pruning knife and taking ‘an excess amount of co-proxamol tablets’.

Three blister packs of the painkiller, each able to hold ten pills, were retrieved from Dr Kelly’s coat pocket when his body was found in woods near his home.

Only one tablet remained, leading his post mortem examination report to state he may have taken up to 29 pills.

Co-proxamol ingestion is listed as a cause of death on his death certificate.

But Thames Valley Police has now revealed that when it tested two of the blister packs for fingerprints there were ‘none recovered’.

The development is doubly significant because police have already said the knife which Dr Kelly is said to have used to cut his wrist did not have fingerprints on – nor did an open bottle of water found beside his body.

The lack of fingerprints on these items is particularly difficult to explain given that Dr Kelly was not wearing gloves when his body was recovered on July 18, 2003. No gloves were found at the scene.

Dr Kelly is said to have killed himself after being named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing Tony Blair’s government of lying to take Britain into war.

Uniquely, for an unexpected death such as his, no coroner’s inquest has ever been held.

The idea that Dr Kelly took pills of any description has long been contested by those who knew him.

Mai Pederson, a U.S. military official who worked with Dr Kelly in Iraq in the 1990s, has told the Mail he suffered from ‘unexplained dysphagia’ – a syndrome that can make it almost impossible to swallow pills. Friends have confirmed this.

Police have also revealed the half litre bottle of water found next to Dr Kelly’s body had 111ml of water left in it, triggering questions about the likelihood that he could have swallowed 29 pills with the aid of 389ml of water – about half a pint.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the third co-proxamol blister pack was not subjected to a fingerprint search but was ‘reserved for DNA’ with a ‘full profile of Dr Kelly obtained’.

But this unspecified DNA evidence – which could for example be blood or sweat – does not explain the lack of prints on the first two packs.

Fingerprint expert Peter Swann, said: ‘Fingerprint testing is a complex area. It is surprising no prints were found on any of these items.

‘It is possible there were no prints but it would be advisable to have the exhibits re-examined by an independent expert.’

It is not known if any of the exhibits have been destroyed. None of the exhibits was presented as evidence to the Hutton Inquiry.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve is currently considering whether there is sufficient new evidence to apply to the High Court for an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death.

Dr Michael Powers QC, who represents a group of doctors campaigning for an inquest, said: ‘The fact no fingerprints were recovered is odd to say the least.’

For more information and discussion regarding the above FOIA requests please see:

Dr Kelly's Death - Suicide or Murder by Brian Spencer


Chilcot's Cheating Us by Dr Andrew Watt