Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Examples of the sloppiness of Dr Shepherd

It seems to me that when Dr Shepherd was asked by the Attorney General's office to comment on the pathological aspects of Dr David Kelly's death he should have been acutely aware of just how sensitive an issue it was and that there was every likelihood that his report would be placed in the public domain.  He must surely have known that his report would be very carefully scrutinized for accuracy and hence there would be an imperative to make sure there were no basic errors in the report he produced.

In an earlier post http://drkellysdeath-suicideormurder.blogspot.com/2011/06/documents-not-seen-by-dr-shepherd.html  I had drawn attention to the fact that Shepherd had failed to obtain Dr Hunt's interim report of 19 July 2003 or asked for the photographs taken by PC Sawyer even though he should have been aware of their existence if he was on top of his job.  I maintained in that piece that he was grossly negligent in exhibiting these failings.  Shepherd says 'I have been provided with the documents and other items listed in Appendix A'.  I'm not clear as to the exact process that took place.  Did he read the relevant parts of the Hutton Inquiry and Report and then make a "shopping list" of the documents he needed or was he just presented with the items we see listed in Appendix A and thought that was sufficient?

It wasn't just the absolute failings referred to above though.  His report is strewn with instances demonstrating a general air of sloppiness, as if he wasn't really that bothered to get things right.

The list that follows may not be exhaustive but it certainly gives great cause for concern.

Under the heading 'Brief Background' we see this sentence: On the afternoon of 17th July 2003 he left his home address to go for a walk and, apart from a possible sighting by a neighbour approximately half an hour later, he was not seen alive again'.  Even though the testimonies at the Inquiry weren't under oath it's been assumed that all the witnesses were honest in giving their evidence (even though some certainly weren't honest!).  Why then does Shepherd use the word 'possible' in relation to Ruth Absalom's testimony?

In the following paragraph Shepherd states that the body was found in 'the early hours of the following morning, 18th July 2007 ...'   He has the year wrong, it should be 2003.  Also 'the early hours' is unnecessarily vague.  He has a copy of Paul Chapman's statement which makes it quite obvious that the body was discovered at 09.15.  This was a clearly significant time so why not quote it in his report?

'Following consideration of the histology and receipt of report from the toxicologist, Dr Allan, dated 21st July 2003, (TVP/1/0033 et seq) Dr Hunt formed his conclusions as to the cause of death and issued his own report on 25th July 2003. (TVP/1/0059 et seq).'   This is totally misleading as Dr Hunt had formed some conclusions as to cause of death in his interim report of 19th July to which Lord Hutton clearly refers in his opening statement of 1 August 2003.

Under 1(c) Shepherd states: 'The police officers (DCs Coe and Shields) who initially attended the scene commented that the body was 'laying on his back', they did not describe sitting or slumping against a tree'.  Shields is only mentioned once by Coe at the inquiry and not in the context of being at the scene of the body.  He isn't mentioned in Coe's witness statement.  Shepherd isn't provided with a witness statement by Shields.  A small point but Coe uses the words (according to Annex TVP1) 'lying on his back' rather than 'laying on his back'.

Under '2. Post Mortem Examination' we read 'The examination commenced at 21.20 hours on 18th March 2007 and ended just after midnight on 19th March 2007'.  So month and year both incorrect.  Why not quote the exact ending time of 00.15 that Dr Hunt states?

'I note that in October 1983, 24 years before his death, David Kelly complained of angina ...'   Again Shepherd displays his fixation with the year 2007 it seems.  2003 is 20 years after 1983.

3 (c) Use of Henssge's Nomogram to determine the time of death
First paragraph '18th March 2007' twice, '17th March 2007' once.

5(a) Use of imperial measurements
'Dr Hunt quite correctly uses metric measurements within his report'
For goodness sake what's wrong with Dr Shepherd?  No, Dr Hunt uses a mix of imperial and metric measurements in his report!  Dr Hunt uses metric units for the pool of blood below the knife.  In the very next paragraph he switches to imperial 'about 1' from his left elbow was an open bottle of 'Evian' water'.  In the next paragraph there is reference to the 2'-3' bloodstaining and pool of blood.  It just couldn't be clearer Dr Shepherd.

If you can bear to read it Dr Shepherd's statement can be accessed here: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/Publications/Documents/Forensic%20medical%20report%20by%20Dr%20Shepherd%2016%20March%202011.pdf


  1. I'd just assumed he was drunk when he wrote it and couldn't be bothered checking it when he sobered up.

    That was an interesting point re 1983 / 20 years / 2007 / 24 years. That's just weird.

  2. If, as Shepherd maintains, rectal temperature readings to determine time of death are unreliable, why on earth did Dr Hunt bother to take one?
    If removal of clothing is difficult, it is helpful to cut slits in clothing to assist in the taking of rectal temperature early when other evidence needs to be preserved. I found this 1995 article helpful

    Henssge's Nomogram cannot be used to estimate time of death if it cannot be established that the location where deceased is found is the place of death.

    Is this the problem Dr Hunt had with Dr Kelly's reading????

    It does seem obvious though that spectacles , whether worn, or strangely unprotected in a pocket, might be damaged during a kidnap or attack.
    Where was the spectacle case for Dr Kelly's bifocals? And were they Dr Kelly's most recent prescription (was his optician broken into one wonders....) I still don't understand why , if allegedly, Dr Kelly wore the spectacles on his walk, without a case in his pocket, he would want to remove them when they were bifocal? Dr Hunt, a forensic pathologist speculates that this is a classical sign of self-harm. I find no other internet reference to this "standard practice". Can anyone point to any other case when this was done?

  3. Felix, I think (just speculation) that the absence of the spectacles case suggest that Dr Kelly set off wearing them and with the intention of wearing them throughout his walk. If he was rendered unconscious elsewhere and at a later time carried into the wood then I think it's possible that the spectacles were removed when the body was transferred to Harrowdown Hill to avoid the risk of falling off the body.

    Someone as methodical as Dr Kelly would carry the case I would think if he wasn't going to wear the spectacles throughout. The missing case is rather like the missing wallet. Did TVP come across them in the search of the Kelly home? Their location could be potentially significant - I wonder if TVP spoke to Mrs Kelly about where they would normally be if not on Dr Kelly's person.

    One of the things TVP should have established is whether, when out walking, it was normal for Dr Kelly not to wear them all the time.

    The results obtainable from taking the rectal temperature seem to be very open to question. Did Dr Hunt measure the temperature just to give some sense of following the procedure even if the results were going to be fairly close to worthless I wonder.

  4. For what it's worth..
    Apart from Dr Kelly's appearances at the ISC and the FAC on 15/16 July, I am not inclined to believe anything about Dr Kelly's actions or whereabouts in the days immediately preceding or following.

    I do not necessarily believe he was murdered. He may have died naturally or may be still alive and it is all an elaborate charade. I have no idea why whatever happened was dressed up incompetently as a suicide, on which our servile media did not shut the lid conclusively thanks to the iternet. Certainly the death certificate is a nonsense (it's not even signed by a doctor or coroner) because the causes of death listed are highly implausible. Almost everything we know is single-sourced or not independently sourced and not related under oath. We have a blank canvas.

  5. Felix

    And how come on the 17th of July the press had evaporated from DK's door step?

    Surely one hack would want a comment regarding his Parliamentary bashings!

    But you are right to question if DK was murdered but unless / until Thames Valley Police explain why they kept moving the body we are left with the obvious conclusion; DK was whacked and TVP, Hutton and Grieve are up to no good.

  6. Felix

    "Almost everything we know is single-sourced or not independently sourced and not related under oath. We have a blank canvas."

    The information that the body was sitting against a tree whilst lying flat on the ground was multi sourced; interestingly DC Coe contributed to both versions as did Paul Chapman. How weird is that?

  7. LL, my feeling is that DC Coe in his newspaper interview felt he was able to relax a bit, be a bit more candid, not hold so rigidly to the official line.

    Coe has taken all the flak it seems to me regarding the movement of the body. I don't think it was a one person operation anyway and we know that there was other police activity at the time.

    It's interesting that Paul Chapman takes Coe in to the wood to show him the body and it's these two individuals who send out mixed messages about body position.

    The part of the police witness statements that we have been shown for PCs Franklin and Salter make no mention of body position. Fascinating!

  8. LL

    The dichotomy of crowds of press outside/not outside Westfield in Southmoor and the possibility/impossibility of returning home/accessing email I just find too bizarre for words. There must have been witnesses across the road using the pub who would have been able to verify that. Yet Rachel Kelly, to-ing and fro-ing allegedly to feed cats in an otherwise empty house stuffed to the rafters with classified documents, only remarks on one person (possibly not a journalist) and relies on the landlord of the Waggon and Horses opposite to give creedence to the story of inquisitive journalists about (with no date attached).

    Interestingly, Rachel Kelly describes the publican across the road as a friend yet his wife said" We didn't know him well, but he did come in occasionally. He was our neighbour and we smiled at him across the road" So not a friend really even of Dr Kelly.

    I find no filed stories which mention Southmoor before 19 July 2003.