Monday, 2 July 2012

The formal identification of the body

This is a copy of a Freedom of Information request and response from the Thames Valley Police website:

This request, reference RFI2010000737, was received on Thursday 28 October 2010, 11:51am.
1) Who formally identified the body of Dr. David Kelly (on or around 18th July 2003)? 2) On what date and time was formal identification carried out? 3) At what location was the body identified? 4) On whose authority and on what grounds was the person making formal identification of the body chosen?
1) Dr Kelly’s body was formally identified by his widow, Janice Kelly.
2) 11:25am on Saturday 19th July 2003
3) Chapel of Rest – John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford
4) It is normal practice to use a close family member to provide the formal identification.

My understanding is that normally formal identification would be by looking at the face of the deceased.   The mortuary technician would resew the skin where incisions had been made to examine the internal organs; I'm told that after this is done that the corpse is as presentable as it can be for viewing by one or more relatives.  Dr Kelly's death was viewed as suspicious and Dr Hunt carried out a "special" post mortem going further in his examination than a pathologist normally would.  As stated in my last post Dr Hunt dissected the facial soft tissues to the level of the bone.  To add to Mrs Kelly's trauma she would have viewed her late husband's face hacked about in the way described.

With a suspicious death and following the examination at the scene by the pathologist then one would expect the autopsy at the mortuary to be carried out as soon as possible.  In the case of Dr Kelly there would have been further time pressure because samples from the body were needed for the toxicologist.  As stated in a previous post the toxicologist, Dr Allan, came in on the Saturday morning to conduct some tests although inexplicably his testing wasn't completed at this time.

We are told on the one hand that throughout the 18th Dr Hunt was viewing the death as potentially suspicious.  Yet at the same time the police were telling Mrs Kelly that the death wasn't suspicious, that it was sadly a case of suicide.

It is a short distance from Southmoor to Oxford (about ten miles) so couldn't she have been taken to identify her huband at the Chapel of Rest before Dr Hunt started the post mortem?  

The fact that the formal identification was delayed in the way it was may be more "cock up" than "conspiracy".  It was nevertheless very unfortunate and to me suggests that the situation for Mrs Kelly was made even more awful than it needed to be.

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