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Rowena Thursby: No Inquest For Dr Kelly - Coroner

No Inquest For Dr Kelly

From Rowena Thursby

Below is the full text of a newspaper article entitled, "David Kelly.... it was suicide says coroner" which appeared in the Mail on Sunday on 29 February 2004.

The coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, implies that the lack of "fresh evidence" does not warrant re-opening the inquest. However lack of fresh evidence is not the real problem here.

The problems are these:

1. The Hutton Inquiry, the media, and the police seem to have presumed suicide and viewed the evidence accordingly.

2. Certain evidence, withheld from the Hutton inquiry by the police, (including dozens of witness statements) should have been provided to enable a proper evaluation.

3. Much evidence was not secured because of the lack of rigorous cross-examination at the Hutton inquiry.

4. There was no independent scrutiny of the evidence as would occur at a full inquest where (unlike at a public inquiry) a jury could be called.

5. Evidence that was obtained was used to bolster the presumption of suicide, when it could equally have supported murder dressed-up as suicide.

A few examples of "holes" in the evidence:

1. a) It has never been made clear whether tests were done on the soil where blood is said to have seeped in, to ascertain how much, if any, blood did seep into the soil. Nor has it been stated whether tests were done to ascertain how much blood was left in the heart or whether it had drained away as claimed. If the body had bled out it has not been explained why livor mortis was nevertheless present.

b) While the toxicologist said that Kelly would have had to have ingested the co-proxamol from his stomach, our medical team has recently revealed that in France there is a liquid form of paracetemol available (pro-Dafalgan) and the other drug component, dextropropoxyphene, is also available in liquid form. This being the case, this combination of drugs could have been injected, and the puncture mark covered by the slash on the wrist.

2. Phone calls made to and from Kelly's mobile have not been revealed. We have not been told of the nature of the call or caller just before Kelly left the house. Early newspaper reports of Kelly being found in a field face down, or having gone out without a jacket, or having waved to a farmer and smiled, have not been denied, and the true picture has never been properly clarified.

3. The many discrepancies in testimony regarding the positions of the body have not been untangled, as witnesses were never adequately questioned or cross-examined. In the Hutton Report Lord Hutton speaks of a photograph that shows Kelly's body to be slumped against a tree. Yet Dr Hunt, the forensic pathologist, who spent 7 hours with the body, stated very clearly the body was not touching the tree, but was lying flat on its back, close to the tree.

The public needs to know exactly what evidence has been gathered by police and forensic investigation. A proper inquest would enable a close examination and evaluation of all the evidence before a jury. Witnesses could be subpoenaed and evidence taken on oath. This would provide a proper forum in which to discover beyond reasonable doubt, the actual cause of Kelly's death.

From Mail on Sunday 29 February 2004
by Christopher Leake

There is to be no new inquest into the death of Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Nicholas Gardiner, who is the Oxfordshire coroner in charge of the case, believes that no fresh evidence has come to light since Dr Kelly's death which persuades him to differ from the verdict of suicide at the Hutton Inquiry.

In the past few weeks a growing number of medical experts and friends of the Government scientist have said they did not believe he took his own life by taking a drugs overdose and slashing his left wrist. Mai Pederson, the exotic 43-year-old US Air Force linguist who had influenced Dr Kelly's conversion to the Bahai'i faith, told The Mail on Sunday earlier this month that he had a problem swallowing tablets and would have struggled with the large number of pills he was supposed to have taken.

Mr Gardiner has also studied claims by doctors who cast grave doubt on Dr Kelly's apparent suicide and suggested he might have been murdered. They alleged that he could not have died from such a small wrist wound and with only a relatively small amount of painkillers in his bloodstream.

After months of scrutinising hundreds of pages of evidence, Mr Gardiner will announce this week that he is to give witnesses or interested parties one last chance at a public hearing later in the month to have their say in order to achieve a closure on the case.

Anyone taking part will have to submit statements in advance so that he can rule out anything he considers irrelevant to the hearing. He has also insisted that any such evidence is given in public and not discussed "behind closed doors" as in the past.

Under the terms of the 1988 Coroner's Act, Mr Gardiner can decide if a "properly interested person" qualifies to make representations to him about whether he should or should not resume the Kelly inquest, which was adjourned for the duration of the Hutton Inquiry.

Thos entitled to appear include the Kelly family, anyone whose conduct has been criticised, trade union representatives, police and insurers.

Sources say it is most unlikely Ms Pederson will give evidence in the coroner's hearing.

Anyone appearing at the hearing will have the same legal protection as in any other court. Anything they say in open court is protected from a libel claim and can be reported by the media. They lose their legal privileges only if they repeat comments outside court which they cannot prove to be correct.


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