Sunday, 24 June 2012

The co-proxamol (2)

In my last post I reproduced those parts of Dr Hunt's final report relating to the co-proxamol.  I also flagged up the fact that in his initial report of 19 July Dr Hunt hadn't seemingly included co-proxamol ingestion as a factor in the cause of deathWe know from a statement of forensic toxicologist Dr Allan dated 21 July 2003 that certain items from Dr Kelly's body were received at his laboratory on Saturday 19 July

With the post mortem being completed at 00.15 on the 19th the fact that various items were sent to the laboratory on the same day at least shows a commendable desire to get things done.  Looking at what Dr Allan had to say at the Inquiry he did his testing that Saturday morning.   However the test results given in the 21 July report together with the testimony given by Dr Allan at the Hutton Inquiry gave cause for concern in as much that it seemed that the amount of testing was inadequate.  It wasn't until eight years later, on 9 June 2011, that it was discovered that Dr Allan produced two further reports on 18 August 2003 and 17 September 2003  and respectively.  The last mentioned concerned a blood sample NCH/47 sent to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and I don't know that that document is particularly relevant to possible co-proxamol ingestion.

Dr Allan's report of 18 August (the same day as the Registrar recorded the cause of death of Dr Kelly) details the examination for any contaminants in the liquid in the Evian bottle.  Dr Allan also says: The stomach contents (item NCH/49) was further analysed for dextropropoxyphene, and the vitreous humour (plain - item NCH/53) for this and for paracetamol.  The "missing" results in the 18 August report weren't discussed at the Hutton Inquiry.  There is no evidence that either Hutton or the coroner Nicholas Gardiner saw Dr Allan's second or third reports, certainly they weren't listed in the evidence tab on the Inquiry website.  This may be cock up rather than conspiracy ... perhaps it demonstrates the lack of medical background, or just a lack of concern, on the part of both Lord Hutton and Mr Gardiner.

The apparent failure to test the stomach contents for dextropropoxyphene was an issue raised with the Attorney General.  See number 25 here for the response to this:  If the 18 August statement was before the Inquiry why wasn't it listed and discussed?

Dr Allan states that he had to estimate the amount of dextrpropoxyphene in the stomach contents.  Why couldn't that have been done for his 21 July report?  Similarly the vitreous humour was among the items received on the 19th July for testing.  The lab didn't receive the decanted liquid from the Evian bottle until 25 July so some delay in that result was inevitable.  It seems ridiculous to me that the stops were pulled out to carry out some initial testing but then there was a delay of almost a month before the second report was produced.  

The question that has to be asked is whether this seemingly haphazard approach to testing and reporting in the forensic industry is widespread.

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