Thursday, 16 June 2011

Final plea to the Coroner from 7 doctors and 2 lawyers (QCs) that he re-open his inquest (dated 15 March 2004)

Nicholas Gardiner
Oxfordshire Coroner                                       
Southern House
1 Cambridge Terrace
OX1 1RR                                                                   15 March 2004

Dear Mr Gardiner


We refer you to Alex Thomson's Channel 4 News film on 9 March which, ahead of the forthcoming hearing in Oxford, explored the issues surrounding Dr Kelly's death.
As you are aware, a public debate has arisen following the publication of three letters in the Guardian (26 January, 12 February, 19 February) from medical specialists who raised serious questions about Dr Nicholas Hunt’s conclusions as to how Dr Kelly died.  Drs Halpin, Frost and Sennett wrote to you on 21 January 2004 to say that, in their view, it is extremely improbable that transection of a single ulnar artery would have resulted in bleeding sufficient to cause death. 

They also pointed out that the levels in the blood of the two components of co-proxamol were, according to forensic toxicologist, Dr Allan, less than a third of what is normally a fatal dose, and that in a man of Dr Kelly's fitness, coronary atherosclerosis is unlikely to have played a significant part in his death. Orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, David Halpin, and vascular surgeon, John Scurr, spoke to this effect in the Channel 4 broadcast. 

On the other side of the debate, forensic experts from Sheffield University, Professors Chris Milroy and Robert Forrest, expressed the view that either co-proxamol ingestion alone, or a transected artery, co-proxamol ingestion, and atherosclerosis together, may have caused death.  However, they felt that a coroner would be ‘better equipped’ than Lord Hutton to investigate the means by which Dr Kelly came to his death, and that in view of doubts raised by a growing number of medical specialists, a full coroner’s inquest should be held in order to air the evidence again and arrive at an appropriate conclusion.

Dr Michael Powers QC, considers that the growing body of medical opinion which disputes the official causes of death does, in fact, constitute the "exceptional reason" you require to re-convene a full inquest.

Crucially, Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Dr Kelly, telephoned the Channel 4 studios on 9th February to say: "I would be more comfortable with a full inquest".

As Dr Powers states in his letter to The Times of 12 March (enclosed):
‘Suicide cannot be presumed.  Even evidence pointing to the likelihood that Dr Kelly took his own life is not sufficient.  Suicide has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.’

The Hutton Inquiry did not take place in front of a jury.  Nor was Lord Hutton able to subpoena and cross-examine witnesses, or hear evidence under oath.  In view of the concerns that have been publicly expressed by nine highly-qualified medical specialists, three forensic and two legal experts, we request that you resume a full inquest into the death of Dr Kelly.  Our position is that only by allowing this debate to take place at inquest can public confidence be restored.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Y. Adi  MD MPH
Researcher in Public Health & Epidemiology

Martin Birnstingl  MS FRCS
Specialist in Vascular Surgery

Dr C Stephen Frost   BSc MB ChB (UK) Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (Stockholm,   Sweden                      

David Halpin   MB BS FRCS  (UK)     
Specialist in Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery

Dr Michael John Powers QC MB BS BSc DA
of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister

John Henry Scurr  MB BS  BSc FRCS
Specialist in Vascular Surgery

Dr Searle Sennett   BSc  MB ChB FFARCS
Specialist in Anaesthesiology

Michael Shrimpton
of Gray's Inn, Barrister

Enc:   Letter to The Times, 12 March 2004, by Dr Michael Powers QC 

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