Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bowing to the knowledge of the forensic "experts"

This post is a development of the theme outlined on 7 May when I briefly discussed the question of whether the expert witnesses were competent and honest  I'm not going to consider the point regarding honesty at the moment.

It seems to me that it is far too easy to be overawed by the testimony given by medical specialists, particularly forensic pathologists.  Some coroners come to the profession with a medical background, unfortunately the Oxfordshire coroner at the time, Nicholas Gardiner, didn't.  There is no indication that Lord Hutton had any meaningful medical knowledge to bring to his Inquiry either. 

Mr Gardiner, on 14 August 2003, briefly resumed the inquest in order to to able to complete the death certificate.  I shall explain in another post why he was wrong to do this.  The point here though is that he appears to have accepted the reports provided by the forensic pathologist Dr Hunt and the forensic toxicologist Dr Allan without demur.  Similarly Lord Hutton, in producing his report on the 28th January 2004, fails to critically analyse what the forensic experts had to say.  In other words the experts have spoken, who am I to criticise their procedures and conclusions seems to have been the unspoken refrain.

So why did both Gardiner and Hutton just accept what they had been told?  As a non expert I have deduced just how bad Dr Hunt's work in the Dr Kelly case has been.  In some instances I have admittedly been pointed in the right direction by other concerned individuals.  There are also some aspects of the conclusions reached by the various experts that I have seen as inadequate without assistance from anybody else, it has been simply down to forceful logic.

The forensic pathologist Freddy Patel it now seems got it wrong when he conducted the Ian Tomlinson post mortem.  His professional ability was already suspect.  His case is an example surely of the "expert" being wrong.  There are other pathologists that haven't been up to the mark.  Did Gardiner and Hutton have some other imperative that stopped them making any critical appraisal of the evidence supplied by the "experts"?  Perhaps they did!

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