Friday, 22 June 2012

Nicholas Rufford and Dr Kelly's heart disease

A few days ago I had written a couple of posts about Dr Kelly's heart disease  and

Since then I have read an interesting article in the Sunday Times of 25 January 2004 by journalist Nicholas Rufford.  A remark he makes somewhat contradicts what I wrote in the penultimate paragraph in the second link above.  This was my perspective:

A little over a week before his death Dr Kelly evidently got a clean bill of health from the MOD doctorFurthermore Dr Warner, Mrs Kelly and Rachel Kelly have nothing to say at the Inquiry about Dr Kelly having complained about any heart problem. There is no obvious evidence of Dr Kelly being aware of a problem of hardening of the arteries. 

Mr Rufford makes a short reference to Dr Kelly's heart condition.  To give it some sort of context I've included the text immediately preceding it:

Kelly's role diminished further after 1998, when UN inspectors were ordered out of Iraq because Saddam's officials were refusing to co-operate. As the months slipped by he was consulted less. The intelligence services were now the lead agencies on Iraq. Phone intercepts and satellite surveillance replaced the UN inspectors as the new sources of information.

With a gap in his life, Kelly spent some time in Monterey, California, with Mai Pederson, an Arab American linguist he had met in Iraq. Pederson introduced Kelly to the Bahai faith, an offshoot of Islam that preaches universal peace.

There was speculation after Kelly's death about their relationship but there was no evidence of anything deeper than friendship. Nevertheless, Kelly's marriage was complicated. He rarely mentioned to his wife his conversion to Bahai and he did not discuss his work with her.

Problems he had kept at arm's length came to the fore. He had high blood pressure and signs of heart disease.

He told me that it was partly to keep his doctor happy that he gave up drinking and became a Bahai

I won't go into the detail of how well Rufford knew Kelly at this juncture.  Suffice to say that it was clear from the Hutton Inquiry that they had met a significant number of times and conversed on a range of matters.  What has thrown me is the sentence that I have highlighted.

From the tenor of this and other articles he has written I get the sense that Dr Kelly might well have confided a health problem with Mr Rufford.  However in this instance I have a problem with what Rufford is saying.

So far as signs of heart disease is concerned Mr Rufford might merely be repeating what Dr Hunt had said four months previously at the Inquiry, in other words we still have no evidence of Dr Kelly being aware of a problem here.  But what of the 'high blood pressure'?  I hadn't been aware of any reference to this. 

From my own limited experience it seems that any visit to a doctor, particularly if the patient is of relatively mature years, will likely include a check on blood pressure.  Dr Kelly's MOD medical, carried out just a few days prior to his death, must surely have included a blood pressure check ... it seems unthinkable that such a check would be omitted.  I had highlighted this from the report by forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd:

I note that in October 1983, 24 years before his death, David Kelly complained of angina (chest pain). (TVP/10/0122 - RJ 1/222).  This was self-diagnosed and his GP did not consider the pains to represent angina.  There are no further complaints of angina or any other evidence of cardiac disease in the medical notes.

Shepherd was given access to Dr Kelly's medical notes (did Dr Hunt look at them I wonder).  No mention of high blood pressure there.  Did Dr Kelly self-diagnose the high blood pressure and perhaps get it wrong?  Even if there was high blood pressure but Dr Kelly's problem with swallowing tablets left the problem unchecked wouldn't there be a remark in the medical notes?

My own feeling is that Mr Rufford might mistakenly have thought that Dr Kelly had a blood pressure problem ... there just doesn't seem to be other evidence to back up his belief.


  1. But, according to Nicholas Hunt, quoted by the BBC, October 22 2010,
    dextropropoxyphene can cause fatal heart rhythm abnormalities in people with low blood pressure as a result of bleeding..

    So, hypotension would be more suitable for the official narrative here rather than hypertension.

  2. That's an excellent spot that I had missed!

  3. Brian you are correct. Blood pressure checks are more-or-less standard in a routine medical examination.

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