“Sexed up” Report on the Death of David Kelly: Lord Hutton Findings challenged by Medical Doctors


Global Research Editorial Note

On November 3, 2006, The Times published a letter by Lord Hutton, in which he attempted to defend his report on Dr. David Kelly’s death.  In the letter, Lord Hutton dwells on the issue of the allegedly “sexed up” intelligence, ignoring the arguably much larger issue of his failure to establish exactly how Dr. David Kelly died.

The inquiry purported to obviate the need for an inquest. Suicide was seemingly assumed from the outset by Lord Hutton, and the Hutton Inquiry descended into establishing who, between the BBC and the Government, was to blame for the suicide of Dr Kelly.  But, crucially, suicide was never proved, either by the Coroner or Lord Hutton, as required by law. 

Whether or not the intelligence was sexed up (itself a serious enough matter) was, astonishingly, as it turns out, when viewing the whole, something of a side issue.  It was completely missed by the mainsteam media that Hutton, who seemingly assumed suicide from the outset, thereby undermining due process, laid himself open to charges of cover-up, by himself “sexing up” his own findings on the cause of Dr David Kelly’s death.  But, a cover-up of what?  What was so important to hide that such an elaborate cover-up, if that is what it was, was deemed necessary, given the huge inherent risks? 

A response to Lord Hutton’s letter to The Times was hurriedly drafted and submitted to The Times by three distinguished doctors.  However, The Times refused to publish the letter, and declined to give a reason.

We bring to the attention of our readers the text of the letter which the Times refused to publish.

It is important to note that two of the authors of this letter, Drs. C. Stephen Frost and David Halpin (together with Dr Searle Sennett) succeeded in breaking the mainstream media silence on the possibility that Dr David Kelly did not commit suicide, by having a letter published in The Guardian on 27 January 2004 (see link in Annex), the eve of publication of the Hutton Report.  The letter directly led to the splash headline “Was Dr Kelly Murdered?” in The Evening Standard later the same day, though the doctors had not suggested that.  Later that evening, despite unprecedentd security to prevent such a leak, the Hutton Report was duly leaked to the Sun.  Thus, instead of The Evening Standard headline becoming the main story in the mainstream media the next day (the very day on which the Hutton Report was published), the leak to The Sun became the main story.  Lord Hutton and Tony Blair were said to be incensed by the leak, and an inquiry was immediately ordered to identify the source of the leak.  Some months later, that inquiry’s report was quietly published and was hardly noticed; it said that it had not been possible to establish the source of the leak.  Not surprisingly, many suspect that the source of the leak was none other than 10 Downing Street itself.  The original three doctors were subsequently joined by other doctors, and lawyers, and, as a result, five more letters appeared in The Guardian in 2004, and one in The New Statesman (2 May 2005), just prior to the 2005 General Election.  

The original November 3 letter by Lord Hutton to the Times is reprinted in Annex, together with links (in chronological order) to the texts of the letters of Dr. Frost et al. published in The Guardian and The New Statesman. 


Global Research, 28 November 2008


by Drs. Stephen Frost, Christopher Burns-Cox and David Halpin
Dear Sir
Lord Hutton presided over an inquiry which sought to apportion blame between the BBC and the Government for the “suicide” of Dr David Kelly when no “verdict” of suicide had been (and still has not been) reached.  His report was widely labelled a “whitewash”, because he was perceived to apportion that blame unfairly (given the evidence he had heard), all but exonerating the Government, and placing the blame almost entirely on the BBC.  Now, in his letter published in the Times (3 November 2006), he seemingly seeks to defend his report by setting out his case re the minutiae of the “45 minute claim”.
Lord Hutton misses the essential point. What is more, it appears that he was used by the Government to subvert due process in establishing precisely how Dr Kelly died.  We and several other medical colleagues (and lawyers) attempted in a series of six letters published in The Guardian and one in the New Statesman to inform the public, and the mainstream press, that all doctors learn at medical school that, in order to return a “verdict” of “suicide”, a coroner must prove suicide beyond reasonable doubt (a very high level of proof), including  “intent” to commit suicide, also beyond reasonable doubt. If the Coroner cannot achieve the necessary level of proof, he is required by law to return an “open verdict”, assuming that “foul play” has at the outset been excluded in the proper manner.  Unfortunately, there is some doubt as to whether “foul play” was properly excluded in the case of Dr Kelly.  However, disregarding any such failure in such a high-profile death, it is important to understand that the public was invited to believe that Dr Kelly’s death would be better investigated at the Hutton Inquiry than at a coroner’s inquest, when the exact opposite was the case.
Lord Hutton possessed none of the powers normally available to the Coroner.  He could not (and did not) hear evidence under oath, he could not subpoena witnesses, he could not aggressively cross-examine witnesses, and he could not call a jury.  Not enough with that, his inquiry was an “ad hoc” inquiry, not a public inquiry (as the public and the press were led to believe) subject to the provisions of the Public Inquiries Act !921 (itself quietly repealed last year and replaced by the Inquiries Act 2005).  Lord Hutton was invited (and consented) by Lord Falconer (the Lord Chancellor and the Minister for Constitutional Affairs) to conduct an inquiry on the very day that Dr Kelly’s body was allegedly found.  Later, Lord Falconer, used his powers as Lord Chancellor to invoke Section 17a of the 1988 Coroners’ Act and order the Oxfordshire Coroner, Mr Nicholas Gardiner, to “adjourn indefinitely” his inquest.  But, Section 17a had become law on 1 January 2000, largely, it is believed, at the instigation of Lord Falconer.  Its purpose was allegedly to obviate duplication of inquiry following multiple death scenarios (eg train disasters), when the cause of death could to some extent be assumed.  But, Dr Kelly’s death was a solitary death.  In addition, Lord Hutton’s remit and powers (since it was an “ad hoc” inquiry) were determined by Lord Falconer.  Lord Hutton’s remit was extremely narrow (and Lord Hutton seemingly sought to narrow it further), and his powers were very limited, so limited in fact that Lord Hutton could not prove anything, let alone “suicide”.  After all, Lord Hutton was directed by Lord Falconer to do no more than “inquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly”, and it appears that establishing the cause of Dr Kelly’s death was not viewed as a priority.  But, the cause of the death should have been THE priority in an inquiry which eventually purported to obviate the need for a full inquest.
Despite all this, the Coroner, Mr Nicholas Gardiner, on 16 March 2004, thought fit to conclude that there was no “exceptional reason” for him to re-open the Inquest, and even deferred to Lord Falconer by saying that he (Lord Falconer) was happy with the findings of Lord Hutton, and then went on to say  “and so am I”.  Given the obvious “insuffiency of inquiry” re the cause of Kelly’s death over which Lord Hutton presided, he (the Coroner) should not have been sharing in Lord Falconer’s happiness.  In addition,  the Coroner was surely extremely unwise to talk to the Mail on Sunday some weeks before his final hearing in March 2004, saying that he wished to achieve “closure” at his coming hearing, and hinting at that stage that he could see no “exceptional reason” to re-open the Inquest.
Apparently, it is unprecedented for judges to discuss publicly their findings, as Lord Hutton has done, not once, but twice.  But, then, it is unprecedented for the Government to lead the public to believe that a “verdict” of suicide has been reached, and the Inquest “closed”, when no such verdict could be reached, and for that reason the Inquest could not be closed.
Dr David Kelly is the first British citizen to be denied an inquest in such circumstances.  Given the clear “insufficiency of inquiry”, regarding the cause of death over which Lord Hutton presided, the Coroner should have re-opened the Inquest.  There are unconfirmed reports that he (the Coroner) now regrets that he did not do so.  It is our view that if the Coroner is not able at this late stage to reverse his decision, a fresh inquest should be ordered.    
Yours faithfully
C Stephen Frost,
BSc MB ChB Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (Stockholm, Sweden)

[email protected]

Christopher Burns-Cox,

David Halpin,

Text of Lord Hutton’s letter to The Times

Sexed-up means just what it says and no more

From Lord Hutton

The Times, London, 3 November 2006


Your summary (report, Nov 1) of my report into the death of Dr David Kelly was too brief to give an entirely accurate description of my finding in respect of the alleged “sexing up” of the September 2002 dossier.

On May 29, 2003, Mr Andrew Gilligan, the BBC defence correspondent, reported (inter alia) on the Today programme the allegation that “the Government probably knew that that 45 figure was wrong, even before it decided to put it in…Downing Street, our source says, a week before publication ordered it to be sexed up, to be made more exciting and more facts to be discovered”.

He went on to say: “Our source says that the dossier, as it was finally published, made the intelligence services unhappy because, to quote the source, he said there was basically unhappiness because it didn’t reflect the considered view they were putting forward”.

In the evidence to my inquiry the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and four other members of the Joint Intelligence Committee stated that the dossier was issued with the full approval of that committee. There was no evidence that the very senior figures in British Intelligence who gave evidence to the inquiry had taken part in a conspiracy with the government to mislead the country by inserting intelligence in the dossier which was known or believed to be wrong. Therefore, I found that the allegation reported by the BBC that “the Government probably knew that the 45 figure was wrong even before it decided to put it in” was unfounded.

In paragraph 220 of the report I stated: “The term ‘sexed-up’ is a slang expression, the meaning of which lacks clarity in the context of a discussion of the dossier. It is capable of two different meanings. It could mean that the dossier was embellished with items of intelligence known or believed to be or unreliable to make the case against Saddam Hussein stronger, or it could mean that while the intelligence contained in the dossier was believed to be reliable, the dossier was drafted in such a way as to make the case against Saddam Hussein as strong as the intelligence contained in it permitted. If the term is used in this latter sense then, because of the drafting suggestions made by 10 Downing Street for the purpose of making a strong case against Saddam Hussein, it could be said that the Government ‘sexed-up’ the dossier. However, having regard to the other allegations contained in Mr Gilligan’s broadcasts of May 29 I consider that those who heard the broadcasts would have understood the allegation of ‘sexing-up’ to be used in the first sense which I have described, namely that the Government ordered that the dossier be embellished with false or unreliable items of intelligence…Therefore, in the context of Mr Gilligan’s broadcasts, I consider that the allegation that the Government ordered the dossier to be ‘sexed-up’ was unfounded.”

Brian Hutton
House of Lords

Links to Letters by Drs. C Stephen Frost, Christopher Burns-Cox,  David Halpin and Searle Sennett, et al.  
published in The Guardian and the New Statesman:  

Our doubts about Dr Kelly’s suicide

Medical evidence does not support suicide by Kelly

Questions still unanswered over Dr Kelly’s death

Reopen the inquest into Kelly’s death

New doubts over Kelly

Questions over Kelly

Due process and the Kelly inquest

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