Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Dr Hunt - what he did before 14.10 (1)

Dr Kelly's body was discovered at about 9.15 on the morning of Friday 18 July 2003.  It was though nearly three hours before the forensic pathologist Dr Hunt arrived at Harrowdown Hill and then two more hours before the examination of the scene started in earnest.  It is self evidently a matter of commonsense that the pathologist should start his investigation as soon as possible.  

On page 27 of his book Norman Baker makes some criticism about the time it took for Dr Hunt to arrive.  However I feel he is being a little unfair on Hunt ... unless Mr Baker is party to some information that I haven't yet seen.  Critically, I don't know when on that morning Dr Hunt was contacted and asked to attend the scene. 

We have a little information from the coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, who, in a letter to Kevin McGinty at the Attorney General's Office dated 6 May 2011 included this:

To turn to this particular case the discovery of Dr Kelly's body was reported to me by the police on the morning of 18th July.  From the outset it was clear that this was going to be a high profile case.  Amongst matters I would have discussed with the police at that point would have been the identity of the pathologist who would be carrying out the post mortem examination.  We were both clear in our minds that this would have to be what is commonly called a Forensic Pathologist, that is one recognized by the Home Office, we decided that Dr Hunt would be appropriate.  There are a number of factors governing this choice although the number of Home Office recognized pathologists is quite small and they are not always available.  Dr Hunt was available and he actually lived locally and so was able to get to the scene quite quickly.  As you know he did go to the scene and his observations are recorded. 

When ACC Page attended the Hutton Inquiry on 3 September he told Mr Dingemans:

We were very anxious, from the outset, to ensure the most thorough possible examination of the scene.  I spoke to the Oxfordshire coroner, Mr Gardiner, and we agreed between us that we would use a Home Office pathologist, which is a very highly trained pathologist.

A little earlier he had said this:

Q. Having received the information about Dr Kelly's body being found, did you go to the scene?
A. No, I did not.
Q. What happened after that information had come to your attention?
A. Well, from my perspective I appointed a senior investigating officer [DCI Alan Young], a man who would, if you like, carry out the technical issues around the investigation.  I met fairly quickly with my Chief Constable [Peter Neyroud] and we decided what levels of resourcing and what levels of investigation we should apply to these circumstances. 

I would have thought that ACC Page would have contacted the coroner sooner than later and would suggest that the initial conversation between them would have occurred by 10 o'clock.  It must be remembered that finding the body wasn't totally a "bolt from the blue", significant resources were already available as a result of what had been a missing person investigation.

In the "Dr Hunt interview" in the Sunday Times of 22 August 2010 the first sentence reads 'On July 18, 2003, Nicholas Hunt was conducting a case review at the National Crime Faculty in Bramshill, Hampshire, when he took a phone call that still weighs heavily upon him.'   Dr Hunt would, I think, have been here  Looking at one internet source it seems that the drive from Bramshill to Harrowdown Hill would take a little over an hour, say an hour and a quarter.  My assumption (and hope) is that Dr Hunt carries his forensic suit and other necessary gear in his car. 

Possibly Mr Baker does have a point: what we don't know is just when TVP spoke to Dr Hunt and whether the latter decided to complete his "case review" before making his way to the site where Dr Kelly's body had been located. 

No comments:

Post a Comment