Campaigners for a full inquest into the death of government weapons inspector David Kelly have said they believed they had presented Attorney General Dominic Grieve with an “unanswerable” case.
A lawyer for the group of doctors behind the demand for an inquest said they “hope and expect” that Mr Grieve will make his decision on legal grounds only, and will resist any political pressure to reject their application.
Mr Grieve has been considering the doctors’ case – set out in a 33-page petition known in legal language as a “memorial” – since September and is expected to announce early in 2011 whether he will comply with their request for him to ask the High Court to order an inquest.
The doctors have taken the unusual step of publishing the memorial ahead of Mr Grieve’s decision and Dr Michael Powers said it set out in the clearest and most powerful terms yet why the Hutton Inquiry into Dr Kelly’s 2003 death was not an adequate substitute for the “full, frank and fearless” investigation required by coroners’ guidelines.
Dr Powers said: “For several months now the Attorney General has been considering the ‘memorial’ of the doctors. This legal document sets out details of the insufficiency and irregularities of Lord Hutton’s informal inquiry which, in our opinion, make the argument for a proper inquest unanswerable.
“Although the senior government law officer, it is hoped and expected that Dominic Grieve QC MP will put aside political considerations in reaching his decision on the law. The circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death merit a detailed examination of all the evidence in a coroner’s court. Many questions have been asked which demand proper answers. It is in the public interest that confidence is maintained in the due process of law.”
Dr Kelly’s body was found near his Oxfordshire home days after he was revealed as the source of media claims that the Government had “sexed up” its dossier on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was used by then prime minister Tony Blair as a justification for the invasion of the country.
Unusually for an unnatural death, an inquest was never completed, as Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer declared himself satisfied with the finding of the Hutton Inquiry that the scientist had committed suicide, prompting the Oxfordshire coroner to abandon the inquiry which he opened and adjourned immediately after the death.
But the five doctors, led by radiologist Stephen Frost, argue that Lord Hutton – who devoted only half a day of his 24-day inquiry to medical evidence and did not have statutory powers to require cross-examination of witnesses – was not in a position to fulfil the duties of a coroner.
The memorial, available on the internet, says there is “serious doubt” that sufficient evidence was available at the time of the “hastily conducted” inquiry to reach the conclusion that Dr Kelly deliberately killed himself by cutting his wrist and taking painkillers, as his death certificate suggests. Scrutiny of medical evidence was “unacceptably limp”.
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