Letter to the Coroner from me dated 23 February 2004 formally asking him that he assign one or all of the doctors "properly interested person(s)" status ... no reply was received
23 February 2004
(City) Coroner's Office
New Post Mortem Suite
John Radcliffe Hospital
THE DEATH OF DR DAVID KELLY - FOUL PLAY NOT EXCLUDED
Thank you for giving me some of your valuable time when we spoke on the telephone last Thursday.
I would first like to confirm that I am one of the five signatories to the letter, sent to and received by you, dated 21 January 2004. I explained, when we spoke, that Rowena Thursby had arranged for the letter to be sent to each of the signatories, for formal signing, but that the letter seemed to have become lost in the post. You confirmed that you would accept the letter as being from the five people named and that there would be no need to re-start the process of obtaining signatures. I trust that you will give the contents of the copy of the letter sent to you (signed, I believe by Garrett Cooke, Rowena Thursby and Dr Searle Sennett) due consideration.
My main purpose in writing to you today is to inform you that we (the five signatories of that letter, three of whom are doctors) and others (mainly doctors) do not accept the finding of Lord Hutton that Dr David Kelly committed suicide. We have carefully scrutinised the evidence heard by Lord Hutton and we do not feel that on that evidence he was in a position to rule out foul play. In addition, Lord Hutton lacked the powers available to a coroner at a full inquest namely:
1) power to hear evidence on oath
2) power to subpoena witnesses
3) power to summon a jury.
Further, his remit was extremely narrow and decided by the Government and he, himself, was appointed by, and reported to, Lord Falconer, whereas a coroner "takes orders from nobody". You said over the telephone that there was "nothing new" in an inquest being subsumed in an inquiry such as that conducted by Lord Hutton. I told you that we had been advised that there were only two vague precedents. Of further concern is the fact that the general public were, and are, under the impression that Lord Hutton not only possessed greater powers than the coroner but also conducted his inquiry into how Dr Kelly died more thoroughly than the coroner would have done, when, in fact, the opposite was, and is, true. Thus it came about that possibly the most important unexplained death to occur in this country in one hundred years or more (possibly linked as it was to the United Kingdom's reason for going to war) was investigated, we conte! nd, inadequately. To give but one example, many crucial witnesses refused permission for their evidence to be submitted to Lord Hutton.
We hope you will agree that this is not a satisfactory state of affairs and that you will decide, as in our view you should, to re-open the inquest. You said that there had to be "exceptional reasons" for re-opening the inquest. Out of many "exceptional reasons" which we can identify, one of the more persuasive of them is that the BBC were advised by their lawyers that Lord Hutton had been "wrong in law" on no fewer than 12 separate points with regard to his judgement on the BBC and that the BBC should seek redress through "judicial review". We are of the opinion that Lord Hutton was also "wrong in law" with regard to his judgement that Dr Kelly committed suicide.
We, the doctors amongst our number, amongst many points one could raise, feel that it is extremely unlikely that a man of Dr Kelly's intelligence, especially given his area of expertise, would choose to commit suicide by the claimed method, and even if one were to accept that he did so choose, he would have been extremely unlikely to succeed (by bleeding to death, as claimed by Dr Hunt) by completely severing his left ulnar artery in the open air. As you are no doubt aware, successful suicide by this method is all but unknown in this country, and would probably require the cutting of all four wrist arteries (radial and ulnar arteries bilaterally) in a hot bath.
You told me on the telephone that we, as doctors, would not be considered by you to be "properly interested persons" at the coming hearing when you will hear submissions from such persons and then decide whether there are "exceptional reasons" for re-opening the inquest. We have sought legal advice and we are advised that any doctor who regards a death as "suspicious" should be regarded as a "properly interested person" in such a forum. Accordingly, we request that you confirm that any doctor amongst our number (or lawyer acting on our behalf) is a "properly interested person".
We are considering the possibility of seeking "judicial review" with regard to the verdict of Lord Hutton that Dr Kelly committed suicide, especially if you were to find that there were no "exceptional reasons" for re-opening the inquest. We are also considering contacting the Thames Valley Police and having our concerns regarding Dr Kelly's death formally recorded. We reserve the right, should we deem it necessary, to pass on copies of this letter to any or all of the following: all British national (and selected foreign) newspapers and other media outlets, the Kelly family lawyers, the Thames Valley Police, The Law Society and The Bar Council.
We hope that you agree that determining, beyond doubt, how Dr David Kelly died is of the highest importance for this country, and we hope that you will also agree that the proper method of such determination is, in the time-honoured manner, traditional in this country, at a full coroner's inquest. Accordingly, we urge you to re-open the inquest.
C Stephen Frost BSc MBChB Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (Stockholm, Sweden)