UK Politics

David Kelly inquest plea made to David Cameron

Dr David Kelly in 2003
Image caption Dr Kelly was the source of a BBC report casting doubt on government claims about Iraq's weapons

A group of doctors campaigning for a full inquest for Dr David Kelly have appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene on their behalf.

The doctors have questioned Lord Hutton's 2004 verdict of suicide on the government weapons inspector.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve is expected to announce soon whether he will order an inquest.

In an open letter to Mr Cameron the doctors warn they will seek a judicial review if an inquest is not ordered.

A dossier of evidence, provided by the group in September, is currently being considered by the attorney general.

Dr Kelly's body was found in woods close to his Oxfordshire home in 2003, shortly after it was revealed that he was the source of a BBC report casting doubt on the government's claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction capable of being fired within 45 minutes.

An inquest was suspended by then Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, who ruled that Lord Hutton's inquiry could take its place.

Lord Hutton's report in 2004 concluded that Dr Kelly had killed himself by cutting an artery in his wrist.

But the campaigning doctors claim there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt he killed himself.

The doctors, led by Stephen Frost, say Hutton failed to examine a number of questions over the circumstances surrounding the discovery of Dr Kelly's body.

In the letter, released on Friday, the doctors denounce the Hutton report as a "whitewash" which "failed adequately to address the cause of death itself and the manner of death".

And, urging the prime minister to "endorse" their call for an inquest, they argue that Lord Hutton spent only half a day of his 24-day inquiry considering the cause of Dr Kelly's death.

"No coroner in the land would have reached a suicide verdict on the evidence which Lord Hutton heard," they say.

'Justice miscarriage' claim

"The coroner is required to hear evidence which constitutes proof beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased killed himself and that he intended to kill himself, before he may return a verdict of suicide.

"Lord Hutton did not hear evidence which came near to satisfying that test."

The letter states that Lord Hutton's finding of suicide is "clearly unsafe" and "may represent one of the gravest miscarriages of justice to occur in this country".

And, addressing the prime minister directly, they caution: "If an inquest is denied, despite all the evidence carefully provided to the attorney general, there is a real and grave risk that your government will be seen as continuing, and being complicit in, an enormous conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

"Further, any 'no' decision will be vigorously contested in the courts via judicial review by the doctors' lawyers."

A spokesperson for the attorney general's office said: "The attorney recognises that a number of people have expressed concerns about Lord Hutton's conclusion that Dr Kelly took his own life. He is considering whether to ask the High Court to open an inquest into his death."

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