Hospital Dr News

All doctors should back David Kelly inquest campaign

A surgeon who is fighting the secrecy surrounding the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly has accused his colleagues of moral cowardice in not getting involved.

David Halpin, a retired orthopaedic surgeon, and five other doctors are taking legal action to force a coroner’s inquest into the death of Dr Kelly, the scientist who died days after being exposed as the source of a BBC story on the Iraq war.

No coroner’s inquest was ever held into Dr Kelly’s death. Instead, the official verdict that Dr Kelly committed suicide by cutting an artery in his wrist, after taking an overdose of painkillers, was provided by the Hutton Inquiry.

The doctors are applying to the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, for permission to go to the High Court for a new inquest, or the resumption of the previous inquest.

Their case rests on section 13 of the 1988 Coroners Act, which allows the High Court to order a new inquest, or to resume a previous inquest, in special cases.

Lord Hutton had ordered that the medical reports, including the post mortem examination were to remain classified for 70 years. He recently agreed that the doctors could see the autopsy report but they say they are demanding to see the medical records as well.

Halpin has compiled a 14-page dossier prepared as the basis for the legal action.

As a former trauma and orthopaedic surgeon he says he cannot easily accept that even the deepest cut into one wrist would cause enough bleeding to result in death. The two arteries are of matchstick size and would have quickly shut down and clotted. He also argues that a man who was an expert in lethal substances was unlikely to have chosen such an uncertain method of suicide.

“There should be 3,000 surgeons agreeing with me because they know damn well you don’t die of one piddling artery being cut,” he said.

Halpin, whose campaign has consumed thousands of hours over six years, said he is disappointed that more doctors have not spoken out. “Some of my colleagues have said ‘well done’ but some have…not sniggered exactly…but they smile faintly and shrug their shoulders and say ‘well he was bumped off’. There is a cynicism among many doctors which is corrosive in the profession,” he said.

Halpin said in the early days when some media columnists were pouring scorn on his efforts to reveal the truth he was constantly “looking in the rear view mirror” while driving on the dual carriageway.

Halpin first raised his concerns about Kelly’s death in the Morning Star in December 2003. He then discovered other doctors had also been scrutinising the suicide verdict. One colleague Andrew Rouse, an epidemiologist in Birmingham, had trawled for records of deaths from laceration of the wrist. He had also investigated 271 cases of attempted suicide by slashing the wrist at a US penitentiary and found that only one of the inmates died.

Initially the campaign group comprised 11 doctors, but it’s now down to six.

Halpin is confident, however, that there will be an inquest. “It is difficult to see how concealing the details of Kelly’s death would be a threat to national security,” he said.

The other doctors in the group are Michael Powers, a QC and former coroner; surgeon Martin Birnstingl; Stephen Frost and Chris Burns-Cox.

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7 Responses to “All doctors should back David Kelly inquest campaign”

  1. john says:

    in the end this is about exposure, of fact?, of cover up? , and a ‘right’ for the truth….whatever that may be.

    the pragmatic would see this as a battle not worth taking….but then refer to bob bury of recent weeks, perhaps lines in the sand and the primacy of law over ‘political need’ does need to revisited regularly?

  2. MikeS says:

    Perhaps whoever edits this should give us a little background on Halpin’s other views before peddling his propaganda?Readers might be interested.

  3. George S says:

    I am not sure where Mike S is coming from but for a detailed account of the David Kelly affair I would recommend a read of the MP Norman Baker’s book ‘ The strange death of David Kelly’.
    People do not die from cuts to the ulnar artery and the amount of distalgesic ( his wifes analgesic, ) in his system was less than one tablets worth.
    There are other disturbing aspects to this case and sufficient in my view to suspect foul play.
    If it was a straightforward suicide then why no inquest and why classify the records for 70 years.?
    At this time of the Chilcott enquiry it would seem to me very pertinent to know how and why he died. the suggestion is that he was killed to hide an inconvenient truth.
    If he were alive his evidence to the enquiry would put and end to the lie that Saddam Hussain had any weapons of mass destruction.

  4. Larissa says:

    I suggest the Hospital Doctor creates a link to a file where we can put our names in support of this courageous and totally justified demand of our colleagues to establish the trusth of Dr. Kelly’s death.
    We all are busy, but just signing one’s name in support of justice should not take too much time.

  5. Stephen Frost says:

    To Larissa and all British doctors,

    The Germans are still learning about the harsh and enduring price to be paid for their professionals not keeping a watchful eye on their politicians in the 1930s.

    There really is no excuse for doctors not finding the time to fight for the legally required inquest into Dr David Kelly’s death, because doctors are uniquely placed to opine on many aspects of the case and consequently have a professional duty to speak out. The fact that no inquest has taken place after all this time is surely proof that something is very much amiss. When, as is the case, the rule of law on inquests is not observed by four successive governments surely alarm bells should be ringing amongst doctors and in such circumstances it is surely their duty to speak out?

    You may be interested to read the open letter (see link below) to the Prime Minister David Cameron which pre-empted the Attorney General Dominic Grieve’s perverse decision in June 2011 to block the legally required inquest:

    Silence in matters of such profound importance amounts to complicity in possible criminal wrongdoing.

    Should any doctor require more information on this case, before making appropriate representations, I and other doctors would be most happy to provide a succinct briefing on what has become a complex and multi-faceted case.

    Kind regards,

    Stephen Frost

  6. Stephen Frost says:

    Dr Michael Powers QC speaks out on the death of Dr David Kelly:

    Dr Powers is a doctor, a lawyer, a barrister, a QC (Queen’s Counsel), a former coroner and an expert on inquest law.

    (My email address is [email protected] if any doctor would like further information or if he/she thinks he/she can assist in any way.)

  7. A.H.Butler says:

    Have been interested about Dr Kelly not only his death but about his treatment by members of the Labour Party etc.
    One has read that LORD FALCONER found a LITTLE UNKNOWN CLUASE to SUPPRESS an inquiry into his death!!!!!!!,that alone makes it necessary or was necessary to have an investigation into his death, for myself ,assuming that it is correct what I have stated, the only conclusion one can come to, what was the Labour frightened of that could have come out of an inquiry!!!!!!!, the real truth about his death, it would have clear up the situation, till this happens lots of us will have doubts about his DEATH?????
    A H Butler

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