The Hutton Report - A Cover-Up?
An Open Letter to the U.K. Public (and media)
by Jim Rarey
Free Lance Journalist
Member of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
If, as expected, Lord Hutton's report on the "circumstances" surrounding the death of microbiologist David Kelly claims he bled to death from a self-inflicted wound to his wrist, it will rank as one of the clumsiest cover-ups in recent memory.
If that is Hutton's finding, Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner almost certainly will be forced to reopen the inquest that was cut short by appointment of the Hutton inquiry.
Last September, Gardiner intimated he might have to reopen the inquest because some witnesses had refused to allow their statements (to the TVP -Thames Valley Police) to be passed to the Hutton inquiry. A bigger problem for Gardiner (and Hutton) is testimony given at the inquiry that shows Kelly's body was moved at least twice after he died before it was seen by paramedics, the police and the medical experts called to the scene.
The most damning testimony (perhaps unwittingly) was provided by forensic pathologist Nicholas Hunt (who performed Kelly's autopsy). Hunt testified Kelly's ulnar artery in his left wrist had been completely severed. He also said that hypostasis indicated Kelly was on his back when he died. Hypostasis (also called livor mortis or post mortem lividity) is discoloration caused by blood settling to the lowest part of the body after death occurs.
Hunt said those two facts showed that Kelly bled to death from the severed artery and died in the position in which he was found (sic), i.e. on his back. While the two facts are extremely important, the conclusions Hunt drew from them are wrong. This may have stemmed from his relative lack of experience as a forensic pathologist or may have been a deliberate attempt to mislead the inquiry and the public.
Kelly's body was discovered about 8:30 AM on the morning of July 18th. Hunt did not arrive at the scene on Harrowdown Hill until about noon. The two volunteer members of the search and rescue team who found the body (Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman) both testified it was slumped, almost in a sitting position, against a tree. Their testimony preceded Hunt's by some sixteen days.
The two volunteers left the scene after spending about five minutes there to go meet TVP constables who had been notified of the find by mobile phone. They left the scene in charge of DC Coe and two men accompanying him whom they met as they were starting down the hill.
About 35 minutes later the police arrived accompanied by two paramedics. By the time they got there the position of the body had been changed to flat on its back near (but not touching) the tree. All subsequent witnesses, including Hunt, first viewed the body on its back.
Experienced medical personnel with whom this writer has been in contact (a doctor and a trauma surgeon) say it is highly unlikely (nearly impossible) that Kelly died from a completely severed ulnar artery. They base this on the fact that an artery that is completely severed will almost immediately retract thus limiting the amount of bleeding (hemorrhaging). This does not even take into consideration the clotting factor. However, an artery that is only partially cut and cannot retract will continue to bleed until stopped by clotting or death. Also, the ulnar artery is comparatively small (matchstick in size) and difficult to reach by a blade drawn across the inside of the wrist.
The testimony of the two paramedics seems to confirm this. Each volunteered at the end of their testimony that they were surprised at the relative lack of blood at the scene for what they understood to be an arterial bleed. This was before Hunt disclosed that the artery had been completely cut through.
The Queen's counsels questioning witness about the actual circumstances of Kelly's death paid little attention to the details. Nothing was done to try to resolve contradictory testimony. Nor were follow up questions asked to clarify ambiguous statements. Testimony was not taken under oath.
Richard Allan, the toxicologist on the case, testified Kelly had at some time prior to his death ingested the sedative drug coproxamol. He said the amount was above the normal therapeutic dose but far less than an amount that could have caused death.
When coroner Gardiner reconvenes the inquest he will have a daunting task. The Kelly inquiry has failed to determine the proximate cause of Kelly's death and even where that death took place. However, he has tools that were not available to Lord Hutton in that he can subpoena witnesses and documents, e.g. witness statements to the TVP, and put witnesses under oath.
There are a number of other questions that need to be answered too numerous to list here. An important one is the mystery of Detective Constable Coe.
Coe claims he was assigned to canvass an area contiguous to Harrowdown Hill and decided on his own to go to Harrowdown. There is no independent confirmation of this claim. The constables who were dispatched to Harrowdown from headquarters understood they would be the only TVP team in the area.
When Coe testified at the inquiry he said only one person, Constable Shields, accompanied him. However five separate witnesses testified he had two men with him. Who was the third man and why couldn't Coe acknowledge him.
Coe was in charge of the scene where Kelly's body had been found along with the other two until the dispatched constables arrived It was during that 30-35 minute interval that the body was moved, apparently for the second time.
The major thrust of the Hutton inquiry, and the media coverage, has been who or what drove Kelly to "suicide." That is likely to be the thrust of Hutton's report as well.
The evidence that it was more likely murder than suicide is contained in the transcripts on the website of the Hutton inquiry. The media has no excuse for ignoring it and if Nicholas Gardiner does not reopen the inquest you can color him part of the coverup..