by Daphne Liddle
A GROUP of 13 doctors last week challenged the controversial Government version of the circumstances of the death of Dr David Kelly six years ago.
Dr Kelly was the Government weapons inspector who apparently committed suicide after being exposed for giving information to a BBC reporter suggesting that that the government of Tony Blair had “sexed up” intelligence reports to persuade MPs to back the illegal invasion of Iraq that Blair and President George Bush were intent on unleashing.
In particular the infamous “dodgy dossier” was edited to suggest that the Saddam Hussein government in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction targeted against Britain that could be launched within 45 minutes.
Dr Kelly knew this suggestion was rubbish and was uncomfortable about the way Parliament was being misled into what turned out to be a disastrous war.
But he was no rebel and loathed being in the public spotlight for giving away Government “secrets” and this was given as his apparent motive for suicide.
A few days after he was exposed as a source of information, in July 2003, he was found dead in woodland near his Oxfordshire home, having apparently taken an overdose of painkillers and then cut his wrist.
There was immediate controversy and the Hutton Inquiry was set up to explore the circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death. And the Government declared that this inquiry would stand instead of a coroner’s court, abandoning the inquest that had just begun.
The inquiry brought out many reports of underhand dealings in the Prime Minister’s publicity and propaganda machine.
But eventually Hutton ruled that Dr Kelly had committed suicide as first suggested. Though Dr Kelly’s family accepted this conclusion many expressed serious doubts about the verdict, including a number of doctors. Now they have compiled and published a dossier which claims that a cut to the ulnar artery in Dr Kelly’s wrist could not have killed him.
The 12-page document concludes: “The bleeding from Dr Kelly’s ulnar artery is highly unlikely to have been so voluminous and rapid that it was the cause of death.”
The doctors also claim that the level of the painkiller co-proxamol in Dr Kelly’s blood was about one third of that required to produce death.
They have hired a solicitor, Martin Day, of Leigh Day & Co, and received advice from a barrister, Richard Hermer QC. Together they now intend to use the Coroners Act to challenge Lord Falconer’s suspension of the inquest.
The doctors include Christopher Burns-Cox, 71, the former senior consultant physician for the Frenchay Healthcare Trust, Bristol, and current co-chair of the NHS consultants’ association.
Another is David Halpin, 69, a former lecturer in anatomy at King’s College, London, and a former consultant in orthopaedic and trauma surgery at Torbay Hospital, who later went into general practice.
Dr Halpin said they had argued their case in the legal document in “microscopic” detail and added: “We reject haemorrhage as the cause of death and see no contrary opinion which would stand its ground. I think it is highly likely he was assassinated!
They have been working closely with Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who believes the scientist was murdered by enemies he made in the course of his work as a weapons inspector.
The Hutton Report said Dr Hunt saw “evidence of a significant incised wound to his left wrist, in the depths of which his left artery had been completely severed...The arterial injury had resulted in the loss of a significant volume of blood, as noted at the scene.”
But the doctors argue that the artery has the “width of a matchstick in its constricted state” and Dr Kelly’s blood would have quickly clotted.
They quote several studies which they say prove for “all practical purposes” that suicide using the means allegedly adopted by Dr Kelly “does not exist in Britain”.
Dr Halpin also claimed his own work was being monitored, as more than 6,000 emails have disappeared as though they were being sifted remotely, which he believes was done by “a state-sponsored agency”.
Following the publication of the doctors’ report, other claims surrounding Dr Kelly’s death are emerging.
One is that Dr Kelly was writing an expose about his work with anthrax and his warnings that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction. The new report says Kelly had spoken with an Oxford publisher several times about a book.