A group of U.K. doctors and lawyers called for a full inquest into the death of David Kelly, the government scientist who was the source of a story saying the official dossier justifying the Iraq war had been “sexed up.”
Kelly, a former weapons inspector working for the defense ministry, was found dead in a wood near his home in southern England in 2003 after he was revealed as the origin of a BBC report about the way information about Iraqi arms had been used to make the case for the U.S.-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein.
The group, including two former coroners and an intensive care specialist, said in a letter published by the Times of London newspaper today that, based on the evidence currently in the public domain, it was “extremely unlikely” that Kelly had bled to death after slitting his wrist.
An inquest into Kelly’s death was suspended by then Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer, pending a judicial inquiry by Lord Hutton, who concluded that the “principal” cause of Kelly’s death was self-inflicted wounds. Hutton also noted that Kelly had taken an “excess amount” of coproxamol tablets and suffered from coronary artery disease, both of which probably contributed to his death. The inquest was never reopened.
U.K. Attorney-General Dominic Grieve is examining the case in order to decide the best way forward, a spokesman for his office said in a telephone interview today. One of the options open is to go to the High Court to request a new inquest, though the final decision will lie with the court, said the spokesman, who declined to be identified in line with government policy.
Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke is considering a request for the papers about the case to be published, his office said in an e-mailed statement.
The letter-writers, who include former coroners Michael Powers and Margaret Bloom, as well as Julian Bion, a professor of intensive-care treatment, said it was “extremely unlikely from a medical perspective” that Kelly’s severed ulnar artery would have bled enough to be the primary cause of death.