Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Death of Dr. David Kelly - Multiple versions exist of the postmortem report

One of the loose ends yet to be tied up is how many versions of the postmortem report(s) prepared by Dr. Nicholas Hunt exist and what may be the significance of any changes made between the versions.

In his opening statement for the Hutton Inquiry on 1st August 2003, on Page 14, Lord Hutton said the following:

11 37. A post-mortem examination was carried out by
12 Dr Nicholas Hunt, a Home Office accredited forensic
13 pathologist and his post-mortem report dated 19th July
14 has been sent to me by the coroner. A toxicology report
15 has also been sent to me by the coroner.

However, the version released by the Ministry of Justice, Dr Kelly post mortem and toxicology reports, is dated 25th July 2003.

What changes were made between the versions?

We're not told.

I believe that the Ministry of Justice needs to publish all available versions of the postmortem report in order to allow independent verification of what changes were made and their possible significance.


  1. There may well be an innocent explanation as to why there was more than one post mortem report, however the post mortem report that Lord Hutton refers to in his opening statement and then goes on to "refer to in greater detail" is important evidence. It was recorded as such by Lord Hutton and it was numbered by Thames Valley Police (TVP/1/059 to TVP/1/073) along with other evidence for the enquiry.
    Someone at the Ministry of Justice has clearly transferred the numbers from one document onto another document. They should know better, this has to come very close to perverting the course of justice.
    I think the police should be informed.

  2. Frank

    If you note, the the two recently released statements by Alex Allen and Nicholas Hunt are the only visible pieces of TVP evidence which are numbered with Continental crossed 7s. In addition the numbering of Mr Hunt's statement (TVP/1/0059-0073) is the only one which seems to be a dog's breakfast. It almost looks renumbered in the released copy.

  3. Felix,
    Yes, I am sure these documents have been swapped and re-numbered. As I said earlier there may be an innocent explanataion for this.
    However, if I am correct in assuming that these documents are police evidence, then it follows that someone at the Ministry of Justice has tampered with evidence.
    I think we need to take legal advice on this. The solicitors Leigh Day & Co would be well placed to answer this question, after all they are already on the case.

  4. Ffrank,

    I have a slightly different take on this at the moment.

    In his opening remarks Hutton mentions a postmortem report dated 19th July 2003.

    The released postmortem report is dated 25th July 2003.

    Clearly, those two documents are not identical. What the precise differences are we don't currently know.

    The Thames Valley Police evidence TVP/1/0059-73 is designated as "Witness statement: Dr NCA Hunt - not for release - personal witness statement" on the Hutton Inquiry web site and isn't dated.

    It seems to me that we don't know if there are two versions of Dr. Hunt's witness statement (19th July 2003 and 25th July 2003) or if there are further versions which haven't yet been publicly released.

  5. Andrew,
    Yes, there are clearly at least two post mortem reports, one dated 19th July that Hutton refers to then there is the one released a couple of weeks ago signed 25th July.
    The issue here is not just that there are two documents, but the fact that two different documents appear to have the same TVP evidence number on them.

  6. Ffrank,

    Can you clarify your second paragraph please?

    I'm not aware of a Hutton Inquiry reference having been ascribed to the 19th July 2003 version of the postmortem report.

    Is that what you're saying happened?

    If so, can you point me to where the relevant TVP reference number is attached to the document of 19th July 2003?

  7. Andrew,
    The only statement from Dr Hunt at Hutton is listed as follows: Dr NCA Hunt - not for release - personal witness statement TVP/1/0059 - 0073.
    There is no reference to any other witness statement from Dr Hunt listed in the list of evidence.
    Under normal rules of evidence a court needs to hold a document as an exhibit like if its contents are the subject of discussion during a hearing.
    So the document they refer to has to have the TVP/1/0059 - 0073 numbers on it.
    If there were a second document, then it would have another evidence number.
    They can’t have it both ways.
    Are you suggesting that this inquiry was so "informal" that such rules could be ignored?
    I don’t think this is anything to do with Hutton, because release to the public wasn’t really an option when the inquiry was held (due to 70yr ban)
    I think this re-numbering has taken place more recently.
    This is something we need legal advice on.

  8. Andrew,
    Please refer to this document:
    Section 6.3
    Then look at the top of the post mortem report we are looking (dated 25th July) you will see it states that it is was the “final report”.

  9. Frank,

    (Re your 16.46 comment)


    You could well be right.

    Well spotted.

    The timing of the replacing of evidence is conjectural, isn't it? Couldn't it have been carried out by the Hutton Inquiry team?

  10. Andrew,
    If you look closely at the bottom of every page of the post mortem report dated 25th July you will see the signatures have been removed. For reasons best known to themselves the powers that be have decided that we (the public) should not see Dr Hunt’s signature.
    Not suggesting there is anything sinister about this, but it does just prove that someone has been tampering with this document, and it begs the question what else did they alter/erase?
    As I said earlier, I don’t think this would have been done at the Hutton Inquiry because the then Labour government had already issued Hutton with instructions to put a 70yr ban on release of all documents, so they would have thought there was no chance of anybody seeing them.

  11. Frank,

    Do you have a source you can reference for your comment about "the then Labour government" instructing Hutton to put a 70 year ban on release of documents?

    By the way, my understanding is that most of the documents on the Hutton Inquiry web site will be secret for 30 years (rather than 70), although I can't remember where I saw that information.

    The so-called "30 year rule", perhaps?

  12. Andrew
    70 or 30 minutes it matters very little either way!
    I am not sure where i saw the reference to the government instructing that there should be a limit.....I will check my notes

  13. Ffrank,

    70 years vs 30 years matters more.