Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Death of Dr. David Kelly - the mysterious "pool of blood" seen only by Dr. Nicholas Hunt

The postmortem report on Dr. David Kelly was publicly released by the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice on Friday 22nd October 2010, Dr Kelly post mortem and toxicology reports. The full postmortem report is available to download from that page as a PDF file.

One aspect of Dr. Hunt's report, so far as I can trace, appears in no other public document or oral evidence. (If I've missed something please feel free to post a comment on my blog and I'll consider to what extent my conclusion needs to be amended or corrected.)

And it's very odd that it doesn't appear in any public evidence since it goes to the heart of the crucial question of how much blood Dr. David Kelly did or did not lose.

Beginning on the third line of Page 5 of Dr. Hunt's report we read the following:

There was bloodstaining and a pool of blood in an area running from the left arm of the deceased for a total distance of in the order of 2'-3'.

At first, I assumed I was misreading "2"-3"" (i.e. two to three inches) in a fairly poor PDF copy of Dr. Hunt's report. But, No, magnifying the relevant section of the PDF file shows it's "2'-3'" (i.e. two to three feet!).

Just pause to consider the significance of that assertion.

Dr. Hunt claims (or states) in his postmortem report that there is a two to three feet long pool of blood near Dr. Kelly's left arm.

Several things strike me:

1. Nobody else, so far as I can trace, saw a "pool of blood" two to three feet long. or "bloodstaining and a pool of blood" two to three feet long.

2. In his oral evidence to Lord Hutton, Dr. Hunt (so far as I can trace) makes no mention of this two to three feet long pool of blood.

3. Dr. Hunt's expectation when he (if he was the sole author) wrote the postmortem report was that it might be seen only by the Oxfordshire Coroner.

On Page 2 of the postmortem report we read,


4. Dr. Hunt did not measure the alleged "two to three feet pool of blood", in contrast to the measurements recorded on page 4 of the postmortem report regarding the more credible pool of blood under the knife, which measured some 8-10cm by 4-5cm i.e. 4 inches by 2 inches, maximum.

The postmortem report indicates that it was prepared on 25th July 2003. Dr. Hunt gave his oral evidence to Lord Hutton on the morning of Tuesday 16th September 2003.

The postmortem report is not separately identified as a document in the evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, which I find surprising. One must assume that it was subsumed into the "Witness statement: Dr NCA Hunt - not for release - personal witness statement" reference TVP/1/0059 - 0073. located here: Evidence submitted to the Inquiry by Thames Valley Police.

We are asked to believe that Dr. Hunt saw a two to three foot long "pool of blood". Yet in his oral evidence to Hutton he doesn't mention it, despite having several opportunities to do so. Nor does he measure its extent.

The following quotes are from Dr. Hunt's oral evidence given to the Hutton Inquiry on the morning of Tuesday 16th September 2003.

On page 6 we read,

14 Q. You mentioned before entering the scene you were shown a
15 video.
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Can you say briefly what that video revealed?
18 A. Yes, it showed the approach path to the body. It showed
19 a deceased man lying on his back, with visible
20 bloodstaining around his left wrist.

He sees "blood staining" around the left wrist (on page 4 of the postmortem report he stated it was around up to 4 inches by 2 inches). But where is the two to three feet long pool of blood? Didn't the video show it either?

On Pages 6 to 7 we read:

21 LORD HUTTON: What time did you arrive, Dr Hunt?
22 A. I arrived and was logged into the outer cordon, my Lord,
23 at 12.00 hours; and then approximately 10 minutes later
24 went up to the body.
25 LORD HUTTON: Yes. Thank you.

1 MR KNOX: When you went up to the body did you begin to
2 examine it straightaway?
3 A. Yes, from the point of view of looking at the body
4 rather than touching anything at that stage.
5 Q. And were you able to confirm that the body was dead?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can you recall at what time you did that?
8 A. 12.35 hours is the time I noted as having confirmed the
9 fact of death.

Again, Dr. Hunt makes no mention of the supposed two to three feet long "pool of blood".

The evidence on Page 7 continues:

17 Q. Did you then carry out a more thorough investigation of
18 the body?
19 A. Yes, I did.
20 Q. At what time did that more thorough investigation begin?
21 A. I was logged back into the scene at about 10 minutes
22 past 2 that afternoon, to begin the definitive scene
23 examination.
24 Q. Was anything over the body by that stage?
25 A. Yes, a scene tent had been erected over the body.

On Pages 12 and 13 we read:

22 Q. Did you investigate the scene next to the body?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And what did that show?
25 A. There was a Barbour flat-type cap with some blood on the

1 lining and the peak near his left shoulder and upper
2 arm. In the region of his left hand lying on the grass
3 there was a black resin strapped wristwatch, a digital
4 watch, which was also bloodstained.
5 Q. Was the watch face up or face down?
6 A. It was face down.
7 Q. What about next to the watch?
8 A. Lying next to that was a pruning knife or gardener's
9 knife.
10 Q. Can you describe what type of pruning knife it was?
11 A. The make was a Sandvig knife. It was one with a little
12 hook or lip towards the tip of the blade. It is
13 a fairly standard gardeners' type knife.
14 Q. Were there any bloodstains on that knife?
15 A. Yes, over both the handle and the blade.
16 Q. Was there any blood beneath the knife?
17 A. Yes, there was. There was blood around the area of the
18 knife.
19 Q. How close to the knife was the blood?
20 A. It was around the knife and underneath it.

On Page 14 of the transcript we find the only reference that I can trace to the relevant statement on page 5 of the postmortem report:

14 Q. Was there any other bloodstaining that you noticed in
15 the area?
16 A. There was. There was an area of bloodstaining to his
17 left side running across the undergrowth and the soil,
18 and I estimated it was over an area of 2 to 3 feet in
19 maximum length.

Notice the absence of mention of a "pool of blood". In the public evidence it is merely bloodstaining. And its extent is merely estimated, not measured.

What explanation can there be for "bloodstaining and a pool of blood" in the postmortem report dated 25th July 2003 becoming "bloodstaining" in the oral evidence given by Dr. Hunt on 16th September 2003?

In his oral evidence Dr. Hunt remembers and mentions "bloodstaining" but, startlingly, doesn't mention a supposedly substantial "pool of blood".

I can identify only one explanation. Given the public testimony by others, Dr. Hunt realised that any attempt publicly to claim a "pool of blood" some two to three feet long would be laughable in the light of the evidence given by the volunteer searchers, DC Coe and the paramedics.

In addition, in the oral evidence of PC Franklin given on the morning of Tuesday 2nd September 2003 we read about the fingertip search of the area close to where Dr. Kelly's body had been found undertaken after the body was removed we read,

3 Q. What time did you finish the searches that day?
4 A. The search of the common approach path and the area
5 10 metres around the top of the body was concluded at
6 16.45 hours that day, but then we were given another
7 task by the detective chief inspector.
8 Q. What was that other task?
9 A. The task was once the body had been removed for us to
10 fingertip search the area inside the tape where the body
11 was.
12 Q. Did you do that?
13 A. I changed search teams. PC Sawyer and I remained on
14 site, as police search adviser and team leader, but
15 I changed the search teams over and a new search team
16 came in, again dressed forensically, to do that.
17 Q. They carried out a fingertip search of that area?
18 A. They started at 19.24 hours and finished at 19.45 hours.
19 Q. Did they find anything?
20 A. Nothing.

Oops! They found nothing. Surely a two to three foot long "pool of blood" would, at least, be worth a mention?

Nor does Mr. Roy Green, forensic biologist see the "pool of blood". Here is the relevant section of his oral evidence given on the afternoon of Wednesday 3rd September 2003, on Page 143 we read:

12 Q. We have heard from some ambulance personnel, and they
13 said they were not specifically looking, for obvious
14 reasons, at the distribution of blood but they noted,
15 just on their brief glance, not very much blood. What
16 were your detailed findings?
17 A. Well, there was a fair bit of blood.
18 LORD HUTTON: There was -- I beg your pardon?
19 A. A fair bit of blood, my Lord. The body was on leaf
20 litter, the sort of detritus you might find on the floor
21 of a wood, which is -- and that is very absorbent, so
22 although it may not have appeared to them there was that
23 much blood, it would obviously soak in.
24 MR DINGEMANS: A bit like blotting paper in some respects?
25 A. Yes.

Mr. Green concentrates on explaining why there is so little blood. If a "pool of blood" as put forward by Dr. Hunt actually was present at the scene, Mr. Green would have measured it and would have told Lord Hutton about its extent. Surely?

To sum up:

1. Dr. Nicholas Hunt claims a two to three foot long "pool of blood" or "bloodstaining and pool of blood" in his report dated 25th July 2003. In the normal course of events that report would never be publicly seen nor subject to public scrutiny.

2. By the time he gives oral evidence on 16th September he knows (or has opportunity to know) that a two to three foot "pool of blood" is no longer a viable storyline. Nobody else has seen it. The paramedics, for example, didn't see it, stand in it or kneel in it (while fixing electrodes to Dr. Kelly's chest). Nor did the fingertip search identify it, as judged by PC Franklin's evidence to the Hutton Inquiry. Nor did Mr. Green see it (as judged by his oral evidence; his written evidence is still being withheld from public scrutiny).

In the publicly available evidence there is no corroboration that this two to three feet long area of "bloodstaining and pool of blood" ever existed, as described by Dr. Hunt.

What was Dr. Hunt up to? I have my views. Make up your own mind.


  1. Andrew

    This is superb detective work on your part! I too had seen the "2'-3'" in Dr Hunt's report and like you had initially wondered if it was "2"-3"" and I went to the Hutton Inquiry site and found it was in fact feet not inches (as an aside I found it interesting that as a professional Dr Hunt used a mix of metric and imperial units in the same report).

    What I had failed to note though was the subtle change of language between report and oral evidence. The quantity of blood at the scene is, I think most would agree, a really pivotal piece of evidence in determining how Dr Kelly died. We now have a massive question mark over the accuracy of the evidence of one of the key professional witnesses. Either Dr Hunt's competence or his motivation is seriously in doubt.

  2. Andrew

    You will be interested in the following extract from Hansard dated 5 March 2010. It is part of a fairly long statement by MP Norman Baker concerning Dr Kelly's death:

    'In a reply to me, the then Solicitor-General cited, as reasons for not pursuing the matter further, the evidence of Alex Allan, the toxicologist, and Dr. Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist, at the Hutton inquiry. But she appeared not to know that Dr. Hunt changed his evidence in the run-up to the inquiry. That much was revealed by information and documentation released to me by the then Solicitor-General, who is now the Leader of the House.'

    This business of Dr Hunt changing his evidence is something I've been mulling over for a while. I had checked Dr Hunt's conclusions as read out at the Inquiry with those in his published report and had noted good correlation. I hadn't imagined that the report of physical evidence might have changed.

    Now I'm not saying that the change in evidence from Dr Hunt that you discovered is necessarily the same that Mr Baker is referring to but I think it is quite likely to be the case. I strongly believe that "to complete the picture" Mr Clarke now needs to publish any dated amendment he has to Dr Hunt's report of the 25th of July.

  3. Brian,

    Mr Clarke now needs to publish any dated amendment he has to Dr Hunt's report of the 25th of July.

    If the truth is ever to be publicly appreciated, I agree that each version of Dr. Hunt's report(s) need to be put into the public domain.

  4. Brian,

    What I had failed to note though was the subtle change of language between report and oral evidence. The quantity of blood at the scene is, I think most would agree, a really pivotal piece of evidence in determining how Dr Kelly died. We now have a massive question mark over the accuracy of the evidence of one of the key professional witnesses. Either Dr Hunt's competence or his motivation is seriously in doubt.

    I would tend to term it a significant change in language rather than a subtle one.

    It will be interesting to watch which journalists are wheeled out to pour scorn on this.

    The evidence is, to my mind, disturbing. When there is disturbing evidence that is soundly based then the response I would anticipate is some sort of distraction or smokescreen. Assuming, of course, that the imortant question I raise is not ignored or supressed.

  5. Not only Hunt - one of the policemen attending the body: PC Franklin - said there was a fair amount of blood 'sort of puddled around'. It is hard to reconcile his and Dr Hunt's observations of this 2-3ft long stain with the observations of the two searchers, DC Coe, Vanessa Hunt and Dave Bartlett - all of whom said they saw very little blood other than some dried blood on the left arm/wrist and a blood patch on the right knee.

    This last patch Green's describes as a 'contact stain', and suggests that at some point Dr Kelly knelt in a pool of his own blood. But if he did that, then wouldn't blood have seeped beneath the area where his body had lain, or dripped onto that area from his cut wrist? Roy Green said there was no blood beneath the body.

    Perhaps - only perhaps - that contact stain, was due to contact with a third person.

  6. Rowena

    That somewhat vague phrase by PC Franklin seems to me to typify all that is wrong with the Inquiry. I don't know why PC Franklin wasn't asked to elaborate on what he said. My bias I suppose would always be toward the evidence of the medics, not only because of their background but because one assumes they were kneeling down or squatting close to the body.

    At the Inquiry VH says 'I went to the right side of the body and my colleague went to the left side' I had assumed from this she was talking about DK's right side not the right side as she saw it when approaching from the feet end. I'm only mentioning this because of Dave Bartlett's comments in the recent newspaper article, the one in which he recalls there being space between DK's head and the tree. I believe he went on to say that he went into this space to reach over and apply one of the heart monitor pads. My thought was that he was conscious of the watch, knife, bottle and cap being just to the left of the body and was at pains not to disturb them.

  7. Brian,

    For "medics" I think you mean "paramedics".

  8. Rowena,

    See my comment in the "arterial rain" post ( where I try to answer your question about arterial rain from 2006.

    If you mean the right knee then the position I mention in the comment on that post may become credible.

  9. Andrew

    I've just looked again at Dr Hunt's published report. Regarding the "pool of blood" I think his description is open to interpretation whereas of course there should be no doubt at all in what he is saying.

    'There was bloodstaining and a pool of blood in an area running from the left arm of the deceased for a total distance of in the order of 2'-3'. I believe that he has used the word total to convey his observation that the 2'-3' included both bloodstaining and a pool of blood as almost separate entities if you like. In this area the pool of blood might occupy 10% of the space for arguments sake, the rest of the area being bloodstaining.

    Rowena's earlier comment about the evidence given by PC Franklin makes the latter's remark about a fair amount of blood 'sort of puddled around' slightly more sensible now. I suspect the reality is that there were two small pools of blood - the measured one in the area of the knife and another small pool within the 2'-3' of bloodstaining.

    I don't know if my interpretation is correct but I feel that Dr Hunt's presentation on this with a lack of accurate measurement leaves a lot to be desired.