Wednesday 22 December 2004

Questions About Dr. David Kelly's Violent Death

Dr David Kelly is the first British citizen whose sudden, unexpected and violent death has been denied an inquest. Three weeks after Dr Kelly's body was found, Lord Falconer ordered that the inquest into his death be adjourned indefinitely and subsumed into a public inquiry by invoking section 17a of the Coroner's Act 1988.

The section is designed to avoid duplication of inquiry in cases of multiple deaths where the cause of death can, to some extent, be assumed from the outset. But Dr Kelly's was a solitary death coming amid a political storm concerning doubts over the government's case for war with Iraq, and its cause required rigorous investigation. The Hutton inquiry had no power to call a jury, subpoena witnesses or cross-examine them under oath.

Disquiet expressed recently by paramedics over finding very little blood at the scene of Dr Kelly's death gives credence to our view that it is highly improbable Dr Kelly died of haemorrhage from a transected ulnar artery. From such a wound he would have lost only about a pint of blood, and for death to occur he would need to have lost some five pints. And co-proxamol levels in his blood were one-third of what is normally regarded as a fatal dose.

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