Monday, 15 November 2010

The death of Dr. David Kelly - The competence or otherwise of Dr. Nicholas Hunt

Readers of this blog may be unaware that unrelated concerns have been raised about the competence or otherwise of Dr. Nicholas Hunt: New questions over Dr Kelly's post-mortem after pathologist 'mixed up' two servicemen's remains.

Presently, I know no more than is in the Daily Mail report.

In the context of the death of David Kelly I find it interesting that the weight was wrong in the Sheffield case. One reason that that is potentially important in the David Kelly case is that the estimate of time of death depends on the weight.

I notice, too, that in the Sheffield case Dr. Hunt is said to have issued multiple reports before the information was "correct".

Does anyone know if the assertion in the article that Dr. Hunt is responsible for carrying out the postmortems on servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan is factually accurate or not? It seems to me to be inherently unlikely but it would be interesting to know if Dr. Hunt has had "exclusive" responsibility for that and for what period(s) of time.


  1. Andrew,

    A few weeks ago Dr Hunt described the death of DK as a textbook suicide.
    Has he shot himself in the foot here?
    I made a comment in the Guardian on line forum suggesting that a textbook suicide should be followed by a textbook post mortem examination.
    Is there such a thing? What guidelines to the Home Office issue regarding post mortem examinations where drugs containing substances like paracetamol are found on or near the body?
    Is the pathologist not required to take a liver section where poisoning is a likely cause of death?
    Could this or other failures to follow guidlines make Dr Hunt guilty of negligence?

  2. Frank,

    I'm planning to write a fairly detailed critique of the quotes attributed to Dr. Hunt regarding the postmortem etc on David Kelly.

    As far as shooting himself in the foot goes, I think he would have been wiser to be factual and balanced in his public comments. The "textbook suicide" assertion smacks of desperation, as I perceive his remarks.

    [In passing I'd mention that he might have been wiser not making any public comment at all. There is, at a minimum, a case to be made that Nicholas Hunt broke General Medical Council confidentiality guidelines, assuming that the Kelly family didn't formally give consent for him to make public comments.]

    In my view the paracetamol is probably neither here not there. Its toxicity is delayed, so it's highly unlikely to have contributed to David Kelly's death (assuming the public narrative about time of death etc approximates to what actually happened).