We doctors are perplexed and outraged that the Attorney General has refused our plea for the High Court to be asked to quash the inquest that was concluded by the Oxfordshire Coroner and for a fresh and complete inquest to follow.
A Memorial was drawn up by Dr Stephen Frost, the lead doctor, and by Leigh Day & Co. These 34 pages of evidence and explanation were given to the Attorney General in September 2010. The central thrust was that there was an 'insufficiency of inquiry' into the unnatural death of Dr Kelly at the Hutton inquiry. The evidence is compelling and provides all six reasons under Section 13 A of the 1988 Coroner's act for the quashing when only one reason is sufficient. Furthermore, the test is generous; it is only necessary for the court to accept that the verdict of a new inquest might be different and not that it would be different to allow our plea. It is both necessary and desirable that a fresh inquest be held in the interests of justice.
An Addendum of 15 pages was provided 28 February for the Attorney General at the request of Mr Kevin McGinty, senior lawyer in that office. This gave ample, additional evidence and showed very serious omissions which raised some questions as to the honesty of some witnesses.
It is to be noted that Mr Dominic Grieve replied thus to the barrister representing our case, Dr Michael Powers QC BSc (Hons) MB BS (London) DA (RCS), FFFLM, LLD (Hon) on 16 March 2010.
I am aware of the work of the doctors' group on challenging Lord Hutton's findings. It seems to me that they have been able to make an impressive and cogent case. In the absence of being in Government, it is impossible to make judgment on the reasons for withholding medical and scientific evidence. However , this is something I would review if in Government as I am conscious this is a matter where the public have not been reassured that the Hutton Inquiry satisfactorily resolved the matter.
We have spent many thousands of hours on this case. Our interest in it comes neither from obsession nor prurience. Instead we insist on the due process of the law being upheld. That is, every unnatural death must be brought to a coroner's inquest. Instead, in this case, the abbreviated and slipshod inquiry within the Hutton inquiry was thrust upon Mr Nicholas Gardiner, the Oxfordshire coroner. Dr Michael Powers QC has calculated that only half of one day was given over in Hutton to the forensic evidence compared with 23 days of other evidence.
To put it simply, why has Dr Kelly's death, uniquely, not been the subject of a proper inquest?
We have had good support from both expert and lay fellow citizens. We know from personal correspondence and comment columns that there are many in this country who demand an inquest as alluded to by Mr Grieve above.
We will take stock with Leigh Day & Co and Dr Michael Powers QC. These matters are of such juridical and constitutional importance that the campaign will continue unabated. We will be looking for help from the public. We thank Leigh Day and Dr Michael Powers for their very hard work, knowledge and time, all of which have been given without charge.
Dr Michael Powers QC Chambers 0845 0833000 01823 442671 M 07803 721100
Leigh Day & Co Frances Swaine and Merry Varney 020 7650 1200
Dr Chris Burns-Cox 01453 842243 Dr Andrew Rouse 0121 4540745
Our good colleague, Mr Martin Birnstingl FRCS, has been with us for these eight years. He died recently. We remember him with respect and affection.