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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 14:43 GMT
Kelly inquest will not be reopened
Dr David Kelly
Lord Hutton found that Dr Kelly had committed suicide
The Oxfordshire coroner has decided not to reconvene the inquest into weapons expert Dr David Kelly's death.

In a 15-minute hearing he said the Kelly family accepted Lord Hutton's verdict Dr Kelly committed suicide.

But their barrister said they were "disappointed" that Lord Hutton "did not fully" examine how his treatment by the Ministry of Defence affected him.

Dr Kelly was found dead after being named as the possible source of a BBC story on the government's Iraq dossier.

Open court

The inquest was adjourned last year while Lord Hutton held his inquiry into the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death.

Lord Hutton's inquiry was deemed to remove the need for a full inquest, unless there were "exceptional reasons".

Out in the car park, the KIG - a loose affiliation of barristers, doctors and other interested parties who have made Dr Kelly's death their business - wanted answers
Coroner Nicholas Gardiner said he had received "substantial correspondence from people believing they had relevant evidence" regarding Dr Kelly's death.

Among the points they made was that Lord Hutton was a judge, not an expert coroner, and also that he did not have the power to compel witnesses to attend.

But Mr Gardiner had concluded there were "no exceptional reasons" for the inquest to be resumed.

He added that an inquest would have done little to halt the controversy over Dr Kelly's death and he asked that Mrs Kelly and her family be now allowed "to grieve in peace".

No evidence of third party

For the Kelly family, barrister Jeremy Gompertz QC said they accepted Lord Hutton's findings "as to the mode and approximate cause of the weapons expert's death".

But he added: "The family is however disappointed that Lord Hutton did not consider more fully the extent to which the state of mind in which Dr Kelly took his own life was induced by the failings of the Ministry of Defence in the exercise of the duty of care owed to him as his employer."

After his death, in July 2003, the BBC confirmed that Dr Kelly had indeed been the source of the Today programme report claiming the government had "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction [WMD].

Lord Hutton concluded in his report published in January that Dr Kelly, 59, had killed himself by cutting his left wrist after taking co-proxamol painkillers.

There was no evidence that any third party had been involved, he said.

But those findings have been challenged by some medical specialists, three of whom have said it was "highly improbable" Dr Kelly bled to death from a self-inflicted wound to his wrist.

Democracy fears

Trauma specialist David Halpin, anaesthesiology specialist Searle Sennett and Stephen Frost, a specialist in diagnostic radiology, voiced their concerns in a letter to the Guardian newspaper.

But other experts, including forensic pathology professors, have supported Lord Hutton's verdict of suicide.

And in his report for the coroner, Home Office pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt concluded either of two of the cuts to Dr Kelly's wrist, which had been made by a blade, would have proved fatal.

Dr Hunt said the 59-year-old had probably been unaware he was suffering from "furred arteries".

He said another contributory factor may have been a drugs overdose.

Speculation continues

Speaking outside the hearing Michael Shrimpton, barrister for the Kelly Investigation Group which wants a parliamentary inquiry or probe by a tribunal into the scientist's death, said the coroner's brief hearing would not end speculation about Dr Kelly's death.

Journalist Tom Mangold, a friend of Dr Kelly, has said suggestions he was murdered are ridiculous.

But he told BBC Radio 4's World At One scientific questions would continue and "without a proper traditional English inquest we may never get the answers to mysteries which inevitably emerge when you get a high profile suicide like this".

An inquest would have aired evidence not seen by the Hutton inquiry from people who knew Dr Kelly but who did not think his death was murder, he added.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"David Kelly's family believes Lord Hutton was unduly lenient on the Government"

Fanning the flames of conspiracy
16 Mar 04  |  Politics


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