Sunday, October 31, 2010


Open Letter to the Attorney General regarding the need for an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly

Yesterday, I sent by recorded delivery a letter to Dominic Grieve QC, requesting that he apply to the High Court for an order that an inquest be held into the death of Dr David Kelly.

The text of that letter follows below, for reference.

25th October 2010

Dominic Grieve AC
Attorney General

Open Letter
The Death of Dr David Kelly - information indicating that a Coroner-led inquest, taking evidence on oath, is needed.

Dear Attorney General

I write to you to request that you apply to the High Court for an order that a Coroner-led inquest be conducted with respect to the death of Dr David Kelly in 2003, as provided for on the grounds enumerated in Subsection 13(1)(b) of the Coroner's Act 1988.

Of the grounds mentioned in Subsection 13(1)(b) I consider the following grounds potentially to be of relevance in an application to the High Court with respect to the death of Dr David Kelly.

1. Rejection of evidence
2. Irregularity of proceedings
3. Insufficiency of inquiry
4. Discovery of new facts or evidence

As I read Subsection 13(1)(b) any one of these deficiencies is sufficient grounds on which to apply for an order from the High Court. Given persistent public concerns about how Dr Kelly met his death I find it difficult to conceive how the High Court could conclude otherwise than such an inquest in is the interests of justice.

I will list some causes for concern under each of the four headings previously mentioned. In some situations it is not immediately clear whether a particular point of concern should most appropriately be considered under a single heading or multiple headings. To avoid unnecessary repetition I will attempt to list a cause for concern under the single heading that appears to me to be most relevant.

The following lists do not purport to be exhaustive. They simply represent causes for concern that I observed after only a few hours reading the Hutton Inquiry transcripts, the Report and other potentially relvant material, as they refer to matters relating to the cause of death of Dr David Kelly.

Rejection of Evidence

Lord Hutton made it clear in his introductory statement that decisions about who to call to give evidence rested with him. It seems to me that a number of individuals who could potentially have given useful evidence regarding Dr Kelly's death were excluded from giving evidence. I can only assume that Lord Hutton rejected them as witnesses, hence my including them under the "Rejection of Evidence" heading. Lord Hutton's approach to the evidence of these individuals might equally be classified under the "insufficiency of inquiry" heading.

1. A Detective Constable Shields was stated (by DC Graham Coe) to have been present when DC Coe first saw Dr Kelly's body. DC Shields was not asked to give evidence.

2. Dr Eileen Hickey accompanied her colleague, the forensic biologist Dr Roy Green, and spent some 5 hours at the
scene where Dr Kelly's body was found. Dr Hickey was not asked to give evidence, nor so far as I can ascertain was her area(s) of expertise explored by Hutton.

3. Dr Green testified that at least three Scenes of Crimes Officers were present at the scene. None was asked to give
evidence of what they might have found or seen.

Irregularity of Proceedings

1. When evidence was taken from Dr Roy Green, forensic biologist, he stated in his testimony that his tests were ongoing. He was not asked to give further oral evidence and the results of his tests, so far as I am aware, are not known (at least I can find no public record of the results having been made available to the Hutton Inquiry, or alternatively, made publicly available by the Inquiry).

2. Supposedly, Assistant Chief Constable Page was to give evidence at his second appearance before Lord Hutton about the results of Dr Green's tests. He did not do so in any meaningful way and the absence of information about completed tests conducted by Dr Green was ignored by both Assistant Chief Constable Page and by the Hutton Inquiry. In any case, it was in my view highly irregular that someone who is not a technical expert should be asked to give evidence on a technical subject about which he has negligible or no expertise. In addition, the technical detail of Dr Green's tests was not investigated in oral questioning which seems to me to be grossly irregular and insufficient.

Insufficiency of Inquiry

There are numerous individual points where, so it seems to me, Lord Hutton was negligent in terms of conducting a credible and diligent inquiry, equivalent to an inquest.