Thursday, 20 January 2011

The number of reports submitted by Dr Hunt

I had made a Freedom of Information Request regarding the number of reports made by the Forensic Pathologist Dr Hunt to the Hutton Inquiry.  There was clear evidence to me that at least two had been submitted because in addition to the one published on the internet last October Lord Hutton had referred to an earlier post-mortem report (dated 19th July 2003) in his Opening Statement.  My FOI request then was to try and ascertain how many reports had been submitted to the Inquiry.  There is nothing so far as I can see particularly earth shattering in the reply but for the sake of "completing the picture" this is what I received earlier this month:

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request, which was received at The National Archives on 13 December 2010:

For the dates of all of the reports made by Forensic Pathologist Dr Hunt into the death of Dr David Kelly in 2003 and lodged with the Hutton Inquiry.  

Your request was transferred to The National Archives because the information you enquired about is no longer held by the Ministry of Justice. Following its conclusion, the Hutton Inquiry's records were transferred to the National Archives, and the intention to do so was recorded by the Inquiry on its website:

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you two rights of access when you write to us asking for information.  You have the right to know whether we hold the information that you are looking for, and you have the right to have the information given to you.  These rights may only be overridden if the information you are looking for is covered by an exemption in the Act.  

Following a search of the paper and electronic records transferred to The National Archives at the conclusion of Lord Hutton's Inquiry, I have established that the information you asked for is held by The National Archives. Some of the information is exempt under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) because the information is accessible to you as it is already in the public domain.

The post mortem report in to the death of Dr David Kelly was written on 25 July 2003. The report was published on 22 October 2010, by the Secretary of State Kenneth Clarke QC, in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the Hutton Inquiry.  Personal data such as names have been removed from the report where required in order to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. This report was logged with the Hutton inquiry on 20 August 2003. The report is still available on the Ministry of Justice website:

A preliminary post mortem report was also written by Dr Hunt on 19 July 2003 and was submitted to Inquiry on 24 July 2003. 

I did not locate any other reports by Dr Hunt in the Hutton Inquiry papers. 

Dr Hunt produced his original report for the Oxfordshire coroner on Saturday 19th July and five days later it was submitted to the Hutton Inquiry.  In his 25th July (published) report Dr Hunt refers to the formal toxicology report written by Dr Allan dated 21st July.  Rumours abound of Dr Hunt altering his conclusions between reports, the difference might just be the amendment due to the insertion of some toxicology information not available in the original report.  If an inquest takes place I would hope that the coroner would make a line by line comparison between the reports of the 19th and 25th.

If the coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, was doing his job correctly then he would have made a copy of the 19th July report before its deposition with Hutton.  As can be seen in the chronology it was released to the inquiry the day before Dr Hunt wrote his second report.  Mr Gardiner it seems was responsible for Dr Kelly's death certificate in mid August and it would be incumbent on him to ensure unanimity of the two reports.  It will be recalled that Dr Kelly's full death certificate wasn't signed by a doctor or coroner as it should be so Mr Gardiner is guilty of gross negligence; the certificate shouldn't have been submitted to the Registrar of Deaths nor should the latter have accepted it.   

The fact that the 25th July report didn't go to Hutton until the 20th August would be due to its retention presumably for the death certificate to be issued.


  1. I somehow fail to see why a signed copy of the 25th July report cannot have been forwarded to the Hutton Inquiry, especially because so much of the visible evidence of the Hutton Inquiry is of doubtful origin, poorly made photocopies.
    One can only be amazed that an allegedly completed report is withheld for four weeks from the Hutton Inquiry.
    Perhaps no Coroner or Doctor wanted to sign the death certificate after the task had been hawked around for a month? Perhaps the deliberate invalidity of the death certificate is part of the overall cover-up?
    Brilliant work, Brian.
    I fail to see how some names are redacted owing to the Data Protection Act. The names which are not redacted are those which were blabbed at the Hutton Inquiry.
    As Mr Green says...
    Who was there? A. There were lots of people there, but specifically there was Senior SOCO John Sharpley, Principal SOCO Mark Scholar.
    Q. What did you see when you arrived?
    A. Sorry, there were some other people. DCI Alan Young; the pathologist, Dr Hunt; a photographer Mr McGee(?);and another senior SOCO, Katie Langford(?).

    Apart from the photographer, this is pretty well the unredacted Post-Mortem crew as laid out in Mr Hunt's 25 July report. Green had obviously been reading it beforehand in the redacted form! Notice how Mr Green doesn't answer the question and proceeds with the list of people. Why?
    What is breaching the Data Protection Act and what isn't???
    If there were "lots of people"present then why didn't Mr Green name check the SOCO who presumably made and showed the video seen by Mr Hunt??? and presumably also met Mr Green? I suspect it was NOT a SOCO. I guess Green would say he only arrived after dinner time and the shady SOCO video maker had disappeared by the time his dinner was over. But he did go into the Video Tent just after 2pm. I think the Inquest needs to get hold of Eileen Hickey!

  2. Brian,
    I really do have a problem with all this.
    There are clearly two post mortem reports....your Freedom of Information request states the following:
    1. A preliminary post mortem report was written by Dr Hunt on 19 July 2003 and was submitted to Inquiry on 24 July 2003.
    2. The post mortem report in to the death of Dr David Kelly was written on 25 July 2003.This report was logged with the Hutton inquiry on 20 August 2003. The report is still available on the Ministry of Justice website.
    So if there were two reports (and I must stress at this point that I don't have a problem with the existance of two reports) however, if there were two reports and if they were both submitted to the Hutton Inquiry as stated then they MUST be listed in the inquiry's evidence list. In other words they must be logged. Even if one of the reports is not used in the inquiry it should be logged and listed as "unused material".
    This does not appear to have happened, even though Hutton acknowledges the receipt of this report in his opening statement and then goes on to suggest it was to be used in the inquiry it appears not to have been logged.
    Hutton states the following in his opening statement:
    A post-mortem examination was carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt, a Home Office accredited forensic pathologist and his post-mortem report dated 19th July has been sent to me by the coroner.
    In the next sentance he says:
    The post-mortem report will be referred to in greater detail at a later stage in this Inquiry.
    So why is this report not logged?
    Notice the use of the word "submitted" when referring to the report of the 19th and the word "logged" when referring to the other report.
    Can Hutton be made to explain? Is it worth writing to him and asking the question? Or would it be better to try another FOIR for access to the preliminary report?

  3. Brian - I have been thinking about this rather forced outing by Mr Green of personnel present at the site. I think it was to give an idea of plenty of normal Thames Valley police and other expected people being there, to deflect attention from abnormal personnel who might have been Special Branch, MI5 and so on. And of course, there were other people there of whom we are allowed to know nothing.

  4. Frank

    These are very important points. As we noted earlier, the on-line report of 25 July appears to have been renumbered. But as far as I can tell, very little information ought to have been added about the results of the toxicology tests by Dr Allen (dated 21 July) - only a paragraph or two perhaps. This would not require wholesale renumbering of the exhibit (which it should not have been in any case) but perhaps only the last two pages. The report at TVP/1/0059-73 was the last piece of evidence under TVP/1.
    Lord Hutton does indeed note the 19th July date in his opening statement in which he basically says before the Inquiry even starts that Dr Kelly died from Cuts and an undefined contributory factory of coronary heart disease. Hutton does not mention co-proxamol poisoning because it is not in Hunt's first report. If Dr Allan's report was submitted as TVP/1/0033-8, and the results incorporated into the 25th July report by Hunt, then one wonders why Hutton didn't mention the toxicology report by 1 August (which he had) to adduce the extra suicide evidence in his opening statement. Dr Allan did say in his concusion that the evidence was for a considerable co-proxamol overdose
    Incidentally, why the empty evidence categories TVP/14 and TVP/15 ?

  5. Definitely fishy (the missing TVP15 & 16) also did you notice TVP 17, the date that the witness statement was made; maybe it took three months to check the batch numbers? The statement was made after the Hutton hearings had closed.

  6. Felix - to be strictly accurate here Hutton did mention the toxicology report in his Opening Statement (page 14 lines 14/15). However it is true to say that he made no remarks, so far as I can see, about the co-proxamol playing any part in Dr Kelly's death.

    That Dr Hunt got all the factual stuff about what he observed and what he did down in writing and sent to the Coroner ASAP seems reasonable. The small amount of additional information relevant to the toxicology might be the only substantive difference between the two reports, unfortunately we don't know. In his 25th July report Dr Hunt notes that he was provided with a copy of Dr Allan's formal statement of the 21st but we don't know just when Dr Hunt saw it (other than by the 25th!). Similarly we don't know when Dr Hunt was in receipt of the verbal information from Dr Allan which he describes in his published report.

    What we do know though is that in his 19th July report Dr Hunt has reached some at least of the conclusions enumerated in the published 25th July report. On August 1st Hutton, word for word, is repeating conclusion 7 (the speculation regarding removal of watch and spectacles) and conclusion 11 (the coronary artery disease) although not mentioning these conclusions by their numbers.

    Hutton also refers to part of the content of conclusion 25:
    'However, it is relevant to state at this stage that it is the opinion of Dr Hunt that the main factor involved in bringing about the death of Dr Kelly was the bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist.'

    Whether at the 19th Dr Hunt had mentioned the co-proxamol as part of the secondary cause of death or just the heart disease is debatable! What appears certain is that some sort of secondary cause of death had been decided by the 19th because of the use of the words 'main factor' in relation to the incised wounds. As I say because of the heart disease we can't definitively say whether the co-proxamol had made it into the cause of death in the 19th July report - I suspect not.

  7. LL - yes the delay in looking at, and enquiring about, the blister packs is odd to say the least. It was something that got discussed on the Chilcot's Cheating Us blog quite some time ago. Apologies but I haven't been able to locate the reference, it might have come up in the comments rather than been a specific post.

    I believe that the number referred to by DC Eldridge was thought to be a licence number rather than a batch number if my memory is right about the post/comment. In her evidence I recall that Mrs Kelly was led by Mr Dingemans about the source of the co-proxamol packets (as being from her supply) and assumed that is where they had come from. There was no definitive statement to say, for example, her store was three packets short!

  8. And what about Lord Hutton leading Mr Allen when he nearly let the cat out of the bag that the coproxamol could have been introduced as a solution into the body via a tube.

    LORD HUTTON: Mr Allan, if a third party had wanted paracetamol and dextropropoxyphene to be found in Dr Kelly's blood is there any way that the third party could have brought that about either persuading or forcing Dr Kelly to take tablets containing those two substances?
    A. It is possible, but I think it would be --
    LORD HUTTON: That is the only way that those substances could be found in the blood, by taking tablets containing them?
    A. Yes, he has to ingest those tablets.
    LORD HUTTON: Yes. Thank you very much indeed.
    MR DINGEMANS: Assistant Chief Constable Page, please.

  9. LL - regarding Lord Hutton's intervention: absolutely!
    However I don't think that co-proxamol was made into a solution to be given by tube. More likely the paracetamol that way, with the dextropropoxyphene separately administered. Hence the wrong proportions found, after allowing for the differing rates of metabolism for the two substances.

  10. Bong! The correct answer, Dr Allan, was of course No. Our next contestant is Michael Page...

    The Chilcot's cheating us reference to the Co-proxamol batch numbering is here

    Some discussion here also.

  11. It is worth noting this pertinent exchange between Norman Baker and Harriet Harman in 2006.
    "The [Oxfordshire] coroner met officials from the Department for Constitutional Affairs on 11 August [the day witness hearings commenced] to discuss how he might briefly resume the inquest to admit further evidence of the cause of death so that the cause of death could be accurately recorded by the registrar, and that then happened."
    Mr Baker queried the meeting because the Hutton Inquiry ought to have taken the matter out of the Coroner's hands.
    "The meeting with officials came about because, although the inquest was opened by the coroner [21 July 2003 and immediately adjourned] with initial information about the cause of death, further information—after the Hutton inquiry had been announced, but before it had got under way—came in from Home Office pathologists, including a toxicology report. The coroner wanted to be sure that that information was formally admitted so that it could be passed to the registrar in order to ensure that details of the death were properly recorded."

    The Hutton Inquiry was announced mysteriously by Tony Blair to a lone Sky TV camera crew in Tokyo on 18th July London time, and Lord Hutton was swiftly appointed by Lord Falconer on the same day 18th July. (to me it all seems pre-planned)
    Further exchanges in Jan 2010 are reported here in Hansard
    Perhaps someone can disentangle the deliberate construct whereby Lord Hutton could have had all the reports at his disposal before the Inquiry started,yet he chose the 19th July report to quote from on 1 August. In any case, Dr Allan would have passed his 21 July report to Nicholas Hunt immediately ,so why does it take four days to insert two paragraphs about co-proxamol? And why did Lord Hutton need a 19th July report if a full one was just round the corner? Indeed why write a report immediately if it has to be rewritten with pending information? Did the Coroner have to open the Inquest knowing that the report could have been written that same day with the requisite information for a death certificate? There is NO NEW INFORMATION after 21 July.
    And if the second report of Dr Hunt was completed on 25 July, why did that not reach Lord Hutton for four weeks (only to be "logged") if, as Harriet Harman said ,it contained further information (which?) for the Hutton Inquiry? I thought ALL information came in after the Hutton Inquiry was announced . And why wait until 11 August??
    There is something very fishy going on here.

  12. Obviously, even though Lord Hutton had the following words already before him on 1 August from Dr Allan:
    "The blood paracetamol and blood dextropropoxylene levels indicated the consumption of a considerable co-proxamol overdose" and his results had become part of a report written on 25 July by Dr Hunt,Hunt seems to ignore the conclusions of Dr Allan in the following terms:
    The absolute levels of paracetamol and dextropropoxyphene in the blood are not particularly high and may not ordinarily have caused death in their own right. In this particular case however, even these levels may be relevant as one must consider that dextropropoxyphene may cause death by its actions upon the heart leading to abnormalities of heart rhythm. Such abnormalities of heart rhythm are made all the more easy to induce if there is hypotension (low blood pressure) as the result of bleeding and underlying narrowing of the coronary arteries. In this case, both the latter factors would be operant."
    It seems that Dr Hunt has downgraded Dr Allen's diagnosis of considerable overdose (of co-proxamol) to not particularly high levels and Hunt is now putting his money on the co-proxamol causing death by , as I read it , Cardiac arrthymia (SADS)!
    One woud have thought an expert cardiac pathologist ought to have been brought in here for a second opinion.

    By Lord Hutton deliberately ignoring mentioning co-proxamol in his opening statement, it was as if he already knew that Dr Hunt would downplay its role down in the report "logged " nearly three weeks later.

  13. I think appointing Hutton before the body had been formally identified was a tiny bit rushed. But people were quite well informed at the time, the BBC were able to report breaking news before it broke
    They report Richard Sambrook identifying Dr Kelly as their source (Sambrook making the statement on the 2oth July) but it was reported on the 19th July
    A bit like the third WTC building coming down I suppose.

  14. LL

    Have a look at TVP/6/0234 (if you can believe it). This is dated 19 July. The body was only formally identified (if you believe it,because bizarrely the fact is nowhere in the public domain,even the Hutton Inquiry) around 11.20 on the 19th July (FOI Request and they are not going to say it wasn't). And at 6pm the BBC is confirming the source, with Richard Sambrook obviously doing some Saturday afternoon overtime.
    Lo and behold TVP/6/0232 Gilligan is also "in " at 10.35 on Saturday morning
    before the formal identification telling Sambrook what or what not put in his statement. And at TVP/6/0233 Gavin Hewitt also sends in a choreographed statement at 10.41 am. Notice too how Gilligan's memory suddenly returns the moment a body is found at Harrowdown Hill.

    It is like a ballet.

    The letter from Sambrook to Mrs Kelly is both curious and rather heartless. Would it cheer you up? How was it delivered? MI5 courier? Second class post? Did it catch the Saturday lunchtime (or Dinner time for Mr Roy Green) collection for Monday morning delivery?

    Appointing Hutton before the body had been identified? They could have appointed him a long time before that, and probably had.