There had been a storm following a piece by Andrew Gilligan on the state broadcaster's Today programme at 6.07 am 29 May 2003. He quoted a source who spoke of Downing Street ordering that the September '02 dossier should be sexed up. Kelly's name was revealed by means of having the MOD confirm it once a journalist picked it from a list. Kelly had debriefed the Russians on their allegedly vast germ warfare programme and he had served UNSCOM. For this duty he had been to Iraq 37 times. A secondary role that he played for HMG was to interpret scientific and defence matters for the media. He was head scientist at the Porton Down Chemical Defence Establishment for ten years.
An inquest was opened briefly in Oxford by Nicholas Gardiner, adjourned in the face of the impending Hutton inquiry and re-opened a few weeks later to receive the death certificate signed by Dr Nicholas Hunt:-
1a HaemorrhageThe Hutton inquiry took place, his brief given by Falconer being 'to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly'. It is to be noted that a coroner's duty would be to establish the cause of death. He would also be able to call a jury, subpoena witnesses, give testimony under oath and have them cross examined. None of these were available to Hutton. The focus of the reporting was upon the BBC v the government and the hounding of the deceased. The tenor of the inquiry is shown well by this extract from the Hutton web site. Mr Knox QC is examining Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist :-
1b Incised wounds to the left wrist
2 Coproxamol ingestion and coronary artery atherosclerosis
5. 29The story was of suicide and I was doubtful of that. A letter from myself was published in the Morning Star 16 December 2003:-
1 A. No, there was no pathological evidence to indicate the
2 involvement of a third party in Dr Kelly's death.
3 Rather, the features are quite typical, I would say, of
4 self inflicted injury if one ignores all the other
5 features of the case.
6 Q. Is there anything else you would like to say concerning
7 the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly's death?
8 A. Nothing I could say as a pathologist, no.
9 Hutton: Thank you for your very clear evidence Dr Hunt.
As a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon I cannot easily accept that even the deepest cut into one wrist would cause such exsanguination that death resulted. The two arteries are of matchstick size and would have quickly shut down and clotted. Furthermore we have a man who was expert in lethal substances and who apparently chose a most uncertain method of suicide.
This was the first published letter questioning the verdict of suicide and it drew this author towards two other doctors and a lay person. The group enlarged. The available evidence was examined minutely. Letters were written to the press demanding the inquest be re-opened. A crucial point was that a verdict of suicide had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, as well as the intent to commit it.
Hutton, who had never been a coroner but who had led the defence for the MOD at the 'Bloody Sunday' inquiry, pronounced a verdict identical to the death certificate above in his public statement of 28 January 2004.
The doctors' campaign consumed thousands of hours of work over the next six years. Legal advice was taken a year ago from Leigh and Day. An opinion was prepared by the doctors focusing on the possibility of haemorrhage being the primary cause of death :- '...... the bleeding from Dr Kelly's ulnar artery was highly unlikely to have been so voluminous and rapid that it was the primary cause of death.' The solicitors wrote to the Attorney General and the coroner asking for full disclosure of the medical notes, including the autopsy report of course. It has been learnt from the coroner that all the evidence that was received at the inquiry but not heard will be 'closed' for 30 years. The medical evidence will be so treated for 70 years.
Two vital pieces of evidence have been prised from Thames Valley Police under FOI. There were no fingerprints on the pruning knife beside his body and the helicopter picked up no thermal image of a human at 2.30 am on Harrowdown Hill on the morning he was found. If these things are true, witholding evidence from an inquiry, even be it pseudo-legal, is surely a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice?
Dr Kelly's death has not been subjected to the rigour of a coroner's inquest; due process has been subverted. Hutton's '70 year rule' extends the perversion. As Dr Michael Powers QC (a member of the doctors' group) says - if the evidential base for a verdict of suicide was sound, then why lock it up for 70 years.
The actions to secure an inquest will continue. Due process must be sancrosanct for -
'Where the law ends, tyranny begins' John Locke 1675 Leader of the enlightenment in Britain