Thursday, 21 June 2012

Were there factual errors in Dr Hunt's report?

Any post mortem report must be factually accurate ... I hope that is accepted.  In the case of Dr Kelly's death there are grave doubts about whether Dr Hunt's report is 100% accurate as to the facts.  I'm not talking about his interpretation of what he saw, it's the facts pure and simple that I want to discuss in this post.

In normal circumstances of course we wouldn't know whether the pathologist has recorded everything correctly, we just assume that is the case.  Occasionally there is a death where the report of the pathologist is so obviously wrong that it finds its way into the public domain.  A classic instance of this concerned the repatriated body of SAC Bridge wherein Dr Hunt evidently was reporting on the wrong body.  This could be seen as an exceptional case but does call into question whether Dr Hunt tended to be habitually careless - or was this a "one off"?

On 22 October 2010 Dr Hunt's final report, dated 25 July 2003, was published on the internet.  Some of the facts he lists are of questionable accuracy as I shall now explain. 
  • Some very minor errors, not crucial perhaps but indicative of a somewhat casual approach:  his statement consisted of 14 pages not 144; Dr Kelly's date of birth 14.5.44 immediately transposed to (15/05/1944); Dr Eileen Hickey was described as Eileen Hetty; logged in at the inner cordon by PC1971 Hayes, logged out by DC1971 Hayes.
  • The only witness to record the right fist clenched over the right chest area.  Others just refer to the right hand.
  • Under "Bloodstaining and contamination on clothing" he writes 'There was bloodstaining visible over front of the right side of the shirt beneath the left hand, the palm of which was bloodstained'.  I have to believe he meant the right hand. 
  • His left fist wasn't clenched, 'his left hand pointing down towards his feet'.  Compare this with Mr Green's testimony at the Hutton Inquiry: 'He was on his back with his left wrist curled back in this sort of matter (Indicates)'  Later I shall explain why the evidence points towards the left arm being repositioned relative to the body after the departure of the ambulance personnel.
  • He writes 'He was of medium build.  He weighed 59 kgs, and was approximately 170 cms tall'.  It has been pointed out that this a surprisingly low weight for a person of that height, particularly when Dr Hunt says in his first conclusion 'The deceased was an apparently adequately nourished man'.  Dr Shepherd states that his weight on his medical record checked 9 days before his death was 74 kg but Shepherd tries to close the gap by saying that the discrepancy was mainly due to the difference between clothed and unclothed weights together with the weight of the blood that was lost.  Fifteen kg does seem too much of a difference to me!  The weight of the body has a particular relevance in estimating time of death.
  • Dr Hunt records the weight of Dr Kelly's liver as 136 gm, less than the weight of either kidney.  That of course is ridiculous..
In summary there appears to be enough doubt about Dr Hunt's factual reporting to give cause for concern. Can we really be confident about the overall accuracy of his report?

Update (8 Oct 2012)
It's been pointed out to me that it's very likely that Dr Hunt transposed the weights of the lungs.  With the heart being on the left side of a human body the expectation I'm told is that the left lung would be somewhat smaller than the right.  Dr Hunt appends these weights in his report: R Lung 368 gms, L Lung 475 gms. 

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