Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lord Hutton repeats a speculation of Dr Hunt

On the morning of 1 August 2003 Lord Hutton made his opening statement at the Inquiry.  In such a statement one expects the chairman to outline the relevant chronology so far as it's known and to give some pointers as to the evidence that he will be taking.  This process is followed by Hutton for much of his opening statement.

However he decides to repeat a speculative conclusion reached by Dr Hunt as can be seen:

37. A post-mortem examination was carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt, a Home Office accredited forensic pathologist and his post-mortem report dated 19th July has been sent to me by the coroner. A toxicology report has also been sent to me by the coroner. The post-mortem report will be referred to in greater detail at a later stage in this Inquiry. However, it is relevant to state at this stage that it is the opinion of Dr Hunt that the main factor involved in bringing about the death of Dr Kelly was the bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist. Dr Hunt also states:
"The fact that the watch appears to have been removed whilst blood was already flowing suggests that it has been removed deliberately in order to facilitate access to the wrist. The removal of the watch in this way and indeed the removal of the spectacles are features pointing towards this being an act of self harm."

What on earth is Hutton doing inserting a piece of Dr Hunt's speculation into the middle of a list of facts?  It seems to me that there are two possibilities:

1. Hutton wasn't experienced at running public inquiries and was totally out of his depth here.  Having said that I would have thought there would have been an element of commonsense and that he would have realised that you don't record a speculative comment when setting out a list of facts, insofar as you know them.

2. Hutton had already made up his mind that Dr Kelly had killed himself and that repeating that particular piece of speculation from Dr Hunt acknowledged this. 

I think that "2" is the more likely explanation.

Whatever the reason it really isn't acceptable for Hutton to have done this.

It looks as if Hutton had yet to receive Dr Hunt's final report of 25 July.  We do know though from what Hutton said that Dr Hunt had already arrived at his speculative conclusion regarding removal of watch and spectacles when he wrote his 19 July report.

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