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Was Dr. David Kelly murdered?

John Simkin

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Letter in yesterday's Guardian.

At the Hutton inquiry, the forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt stated that in his view Dr David Kelly took his own life by cutting his left wrist and taking an overdose of painkillers. But in January, Dr Hunt's primary cause of death - haemorrhage from a cut wrist - was taken apart by surgeons and other medical professionals who asserted it was "highly improbable" that Dr Kelly would have lost more than one pint of blood from transection of a single ulnar artery in a single wrist.

Now, in last week's British Medical Journal, eminent forensic experts have remarked that the level of Coproxamol in Dr Kelly's blood should not have been taken as an accurate indicator of the amount he allegedly ingested, because drug concentrations can increase markedly after death (Doctors raise doubts over suicide verdicts, Guardian, September 17).

Although the remarks of the forensic toxicologist Professor Robert Forrest and colleagues in the BMJ do not necessarily indicate that Dr Kelly's death was murder, they do however reveal that concentrations of a drug in the blood can increase as much as tenfold after death. Alexander Allan, toxicologist at the Hutton inquiry, has already conceded that Dr Kelly's blood contained only about a third of what is normally a fatal level, so it is possible that Dr Kelly had ingested not a third but a thirtieth of the amount needed to kill him.

As the death scene on Harrowdon Hill had all the trappings of a suicide that is highly unlikely to have succeeded, this might indicate Dr Kelly was assassinated, and the scene then set to create the appearance of suicide. If he did not die by any of the means offered to date, this would suggest that he was killed by an as yet undiscovered agent. The Hutton inquiry, with its inability to subpoena witnesses or hear evidence on oath, proved a poor substitute for a coroner's full investigation. With the Hutton suicide ruling now called into serious question by experts from across the medical spectrum, there must now be a cast-iron case for resuming a full inquest into Dr Kelly's death.

C Stephen Frost

Specialist in diagnostic radiology

David Halpin

Specialist in trauma and orthopaedic surgery

William McQuillan

Specialist in trauma and orthopaedic surgery

Searle Sennett

Specialist in anaesthesiology

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I read this letter and the previous letters to the Guardian that initially questioned the death of Dr Kelly. It is a fascinating, if chilling, question to which I have no answer. Surely it is too terrifying to follow the story to its suggested conclusion. This may in the future end up as a debate as gripping as the JFK debates on this forum!

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