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Experts call for David Kelly inquest

By Felicity Spector

Updated on 13 August 2010

A group of leading legal and medical experts have renewed their call for a full inquest into the death of the government scientist David Kelly, seven years ago.

Dr David Kelly (credit:Reuters)

The original inquest was subsumed into Lord Hutton's inquiry into the circumstance surrounding Dr Kelly's death - it concluded that he had died from cuts to his wrist and an overdose of painkillers.

Now nine experts, including the former coroner and QC Michael Powers, and Sir Barry Jackson, who is the former president of the British Academy of Forensic Science, have written an open letter to ministers casting doubt on that conclusion. They claim the official cause of death, a haemorrhage from a severed artery, was "extremely unlikely".

They insisted that insufficient blood would have been lost from such an injury - calling the verdict "unsafe".

Dr Kelly, who was 59, was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003, after he was revealed as the source behind a BBC report claiming that the government had "sexed up" its dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Dr Kelly had been questioned by the Foreign Affairs select committee three days before he died.

Others have already cast doubt on the suicide verdict: a colleague who had worked with him as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Mai Pederson, said an injury to his hand and arm had left him too weak to cut his own wrist. And last weekend Graham Coe, a former police officer who helped to find Dr Kelly's body told the Mail on Sunday that he had not seen blood at the scene.

Back in December, Michael Powers led a similar call by doctors to re-open the inquest, arguing there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Dr Kelly had committed suicide.

At the time, Mr Powers said Lord Hutton's inquiry had been under pressure to come to a conclusion. "I have no doubt that many of us when we read about this thought that he had killed himself," he said. "But you cannot be certain."

This time, there is a different government in power: and before the election, Dominic Grieve, now the attorney general, said the Conservatives would consider holding a new inquest.

He met the Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke last month to discuss the issue. They are also considering whether to publish the medical and scientific records relating to Dr Kelly, which were classified by Lord Hutton during his inquiry.

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