Document:Due process and the Kelly inquest
Further to John Pilger (25 April), mistrust in the present government is not exclusively owing to the lies, distortions and distractions surrounding the Iraq WMD claims and the legal advice. Government deceit extends also to the investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly. Why did Lord Falconer choose a method of inquiry which was specifically designed to be invoked for multiple deaths, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of inquiry, as in a rail disaster? Kelly's death was a solitary unnatural death, requiring rigorous investigation at a coroner's inquest.
Lord Hutton judged that Kelly had committed suicide. There is a statutory legal requirement, pertaining to the investigation of "sudden, unexpected, and violent" deaths, that, before a verdict of suicide can be returned, suicide must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Intent to commit suicide must also be proven, again beyond reasonable doubt. That is a very high standard of proof. Lord Hutton was not equipped to attain it. He lacked the necessary statutory powers: to subpoena witnesses, to hear evidence under oath, to call a jury and to have witnesses cross-examined. These are all available to the coroner. The public was encouraged to believe that the replacement of the coroner's inquest by the Hutton inquiry would lead to Kelly's death being more thoroughly investigated. The exact opposite was the truth. Falconer, Hutton and the coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, may protest all they like. Due process has not been followed in the investigation of one of the most important unnatural deaths to occur here in our lifetimes.
As medical specialists, we stated our view, in letters published by the Guardian in 2004, that it is highly improbable that Dr Kelly could have died by the method claimed by Lord Hutton. The serious and legitimate questions we raised remain unanswered, and there have been no demands from the media, MPs or others that they be answered. Why not?
- Blair's forgotten victims - John Pilger - 25 April 2005