British pathologist calls Kelly death 'textbook' suicide

22nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The controversial death of the British government weapons inspector David Kelly was a "textbook case" of suicide, the pathologist who performed the autopsy told The Sunday Times newspaper.

Speaking out for the first time, Nicholas Hunt said he found no signs of murder after an eight-hour examination.

It comes after a group of prominent experts, questioning the suicide verdict recorded in an inquiry, called earlier this month for a full inquest into Kelly's death in July 2003, which plunged then prime minister Tony Blair into crisis.

Hunt said he was horrified at the way the government had treated 59-year-old Kelly, in one of the key incidents surrounding Britain's part in the invasion of Iraq, which began in March 2003.

Kelly was found dead in woods near his home in Oxfordshire, southern England, after he was exposed as the source for a BBC story that alleged that Blair's government had "sexed up" intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction ahead of the invasion.

"I felt very, very sorry for David Kelly and the way he had been treated by the government...I had every reason to look for something untoward and would dearly love to have found something," Hunt said.

"It was an absolute classic case of self-inflicted injury. You could illustrate a textbook with it.

"If it were anyone else and you were to suggest there's something foul about it, you would be referred for additional training. I would welcome an inquest, I've nothing to hide."

Kelly was the most experienced British expert involved in United Nations inspections in Iraq intended to prevent dictator Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Ahead of the invasion, Blair's government published a dossier of intelligence about Saddam's purported weapons of mass destruction in a bid to strengthen its case for going to war, including a claim that they could be deployed within 45 minutes.

After the "sexed up" dossier claim, the government was furious and sought out the source.

In the wake of the US-led invasion, no such weapons were found.

Following Kelly's death, Charles Falconer, then the government's chief law officer, suspended an inquest into the death before an inquiry began, and the inquest was never resumed.

The inquiry concluded "the principal cause of death was bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist which Dr Kelly had inflicted on himself with the knife found beside his body".

Responding to this month's questioning of the suicide verdict by eight senior figures, Hunt said: "Nobody would have seen the amount of blood at the scene. In actual fact there were big, thick clots of blood inside the sleeve, which came down over the wrist, and a lot of blood soaked into the ground.

"They might not have seen it, but it was there and I noted it in my report."

The pathologist added that there was "nothing to suggest" the body had been moved, another claim from critics of investigation.

He said a fingertip examination of Kelly's body and DNA testing found no evidence of third party involvement.

Kelly's death was caused by the bleeding, severe heart disease and an overdose of painkillers, he found.

© 2010 AFP

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