The inquiry into the death of UK weapons inspection whistleblower Dr. David Kelly in 2003 has taken another strange turn. Evidence related to his death (including the autopsy report and photographs) has been placed under a gag order, and will remain classified for 30 to 70 years:
One of the doctors seeking a full inquest, former assistant coroner Michael Powers, told the Mail on Sunday he had seen a letter from the legal team of Oxfordshire County Council explaining the unusual restrictions placed by Lord Hutton on material relating to his inquiry.
The letter states: “Lord Hutton made a request for the records provided to the inquiry, not produced in evidence, to be closed for 30 years, and that medical (including post-mortem) reports and photographs be closed for 70 years.”
Dr Powers asked: “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?”
There’s also a scathing editorial by Norman Baker (MP) up at the Daily Mail. Lots of juicy tidbits about Lord Hutton, who led the inquiry and ruled the evidence should be classified:
Lord Hutton did not even inquire as to whose fingerprints were on the knife allegedly used to slit Dr Kelly’s wrist. That was left for me to establish through a Freedom of Information request, which revealed there were no fingerprints on the knife, and Dr Kelly was not wearing gloves.
Lord Hutton was to confess that he had not bothered looking into the death very deeply.
Writing in the Inner Temple Yearbook 2004, he unashamedly observed: ‘I thought that there would be little serious dispute as to the background facts [about Dr Kelly’s death].
‘I thought unnecessary time could be taken up by cross-examination on matters which were not directly relevant.’
So key questions went unasked, conflicting and contradictory evidence abounded, and no attempt was made to tie up the countless loose ends.
It remains to be seen whether this story will provoke enough outrage with the larger British public to force the release of all evidence. If you’re a loyal subject, maybe write your MP?