British doctors present case for inquest into Kelly death

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Doctors in Britain campaigning for a full inquest into the 2003 death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly said Wednesday they had put forward an "unanswerable" case.

They have released the arguments that they presented to the government's chief law officer, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, and their lawyer urged him to make his decision on legal grounds and resist political pressure.

The five doctors have set out their case in a 33-page document which Grieve has been considering since September. He is expected to announce early next year whether he will ask the high court to order an inquest.

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 prime minister Tony Blair's government "sexed up" intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Ahead of the invasion, this intelligence was used by Blair's government in a bid to strengthen its case for war.

An inquest was initially opened into Kelly's death, but it was suspended before the start of an inquiry.

The 2004 inquiry, carried out by Brian Hutton, concluded that Kelly had committed suicide. The then lord chancellor Charles Falconer declared himself satisfied with the inquiry and the inquest was never completed.

But the doctors insist the inquiry was not an adequate substitute for a full inquest and Michael Powers, the lawyer representing the group, said the document presented a strong case for an inquest.

It "sets out details of the insufficiency and irregularities of Lord Hutton's informal inquiry which, in our opinion, make the argument for a proper inquest unanswerable," he said.

"Although the senior government law officer, it is hoped and expected that Dominic Grieve QC MP will put aside political considerations in reaching his decision on the law."

In the document, the doctors declare themselves "astonished" that Hutton determined the cause of Kelly's death despite having no experience as a coroner. They describe the inquiry as "relatively powerless and lacking investigative bite."

Kelly's death spawned a host of conspiracy theories and the government sought to lay them to rest in October by releasing autopsy records which showed that he had died by slashing his wrists -- but the doctors say questions remain unanswered.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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