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Star Post Mortem

Vital evidence which could solve the mystery of the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly will be kept under wraps for up to 70 years. Lord Hutton, the peer who chaired the controversial inquiry into the Dr Kelly scandal, has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the star Post Mortem mortem, and unpublished evidence. The move, which will stoke fresh speculation about the true circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death, comes just days before Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.

It is also bound to revive claims of an establishment cover-up and fresh questions about the verdict that Dr Kelly killed himself. What is it about David Kelly’s death which is so secret as to justify these reports being kept out of the public domain for 70 years? It is astonishing this is the first we’ve known about this decision by Lord Hutton and even more astonishing he should have seen fit to hide this material away. Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which could be deployed within 45 minutes. Lord Hutton’s 2004 report, commissioned by Mr Blair, concluded that Dr Kelly killed himself by cutting his wrist with a blunt gardening knife.

It was dismissed by many experts as a whitewash for clearing the Government of any culpability, despite evidence that it had leaked Dr Kelly’s name in an attempt to smear him. Only now has it emerged that a year after his inquiry was completed, Lord Hutton took unprecedented action to ensure that the vital evidence remains a state secret for so long. This is thought to refer to witness statements given to the inquiry which were not disclosed at the time. Lord Hutton’s measure has overridden these rules, so the files will not be opened until all such people are likely to be dead. Last night, the Ministry of Justice was unable to explain the legal basis for Lord Hutton’s order. The restrictions came to light in a letter from the legal team of Oxfordshire County Council to a group of doctors who are challenging the Hutton verdict.

Last year, a group of doctors, including Dr Powers, compiled a medical dossier as part of their legal challenge to the Hutton verdict. They argue that Hutton’s conclusion that Dr Kelly killed himself by severing the ulnar artery in his left wrist after taking an overdose of prescription painkillers is untenable because the artery is small and difficult to access, and severing it could not have caused death. The bleeding from Dr Kelly’s ulnar artery is highly unlikely to have been so voluminous and rapid that it was the cause of death. We advise the instructing solicitors to obtain the autopsy reports so that the concerns of a group of properly interested medical specialists can be answered. Supposedly all evidence relevant to the cause of death has been heard in public at the time of Lord Hutton’s inquiry. If these secret reports support the suicide finding, what could they contain that could be so sensitive?

The letter disclosing the 70-year restriction was written by Nick Graham, assistant head of legal and democratic services at Oxfordshire Council. Nicholas Gardiner, the Chief Coroner for Oxfordshire, confirmed that he had seen the letter. I know that Lord Hutton made that recommendation. Someone told me at the time. Anybody concerned will be dead by then, and that is quite clearly Lord Hutton’s intention. They’re Lord Hutton’s records not mine.

Posted in Master Tape.