Monday, 28 February 2011

The Death of Dr. David Kelly - Error by Hutton regarding dextropropoxyphene in the stomach

This post largely consists of the text of an email sent earlier today to the Attorney General.

Lord Hutton thought the toxicologist had measured dextropropoxyphene in stomach contents but he hadn't.

That's important because Dr. Hunt, the pathologist, gave "coproxamol ingestion" as one of the causes of death.

Dextropropoxyphene is one of the two components of co-proxamol. The failure to look for it in stomach contents means that there is no direct evidence that David Kelly ingested co-proxamol.

The title of the email was:
David Kelly - Error re toxicology by Lord Hutton

The text of the email was:

Mr McGinty,

This email is intended for the attention of the Attorney General in connection with a possible application to the High Court for an order that an inquest be held into the death of Dr. David Kelly.

In this email I draw to the Attorney General's attention an important error made by Lord Hutton with respect to the toxicology investigations.

In Chapter 5 of the Hutton Report we read:
138. In his evidence Dr Hunt stated that he had sent a sample of the stomach contents to a forensic toxicologist, Dr Alexander Allan, and he received a toxicology report back from Dr Allan. He described what this report showed as follows:

[16 September, page 21, line 13]

Q. In summary what did it show?

A. It showed the presence of two compounds in particular. One of them is a drug called dextropropoxyphene. That is an opiate-type drug, it is a mild painkiller, and that was present at a concentration of one microgramme per millilitre in the blood.

See paragraph 138 at .

Lord Hutton has misinterpreted the evidence presented to him.

Notice that the early part of paragraph 138 relates to the stomach but the answer quoted refers to blood.

The toxicology tests carried out on blood and stomach contents were different.

In paragraph 143 of Chapter 5 of Lord Hutton's Report we read:

143. Dr Alexander Allan, a forensic toxicologist, was sent blood and urine samples and stomach contents taken from the body of Dr Kelly in the course of Dr Hunt's post mortem examination which he then analysed. Dr Allan found paracetamol and dextropropoxyphene in the samples and stomach contents.

Contrary to Lord Hutton's statement, no measurement of dextropropoxyphene was made in stomach contents by Dr. Allan.

See (page 3 or 6):

"The stomach contents was examined and analysed for paracetamol."

It's not stated explicitly but it is the case that the stomach contents were NOT examined for dextropropoxyphene, the second component of co-proxamol.

Dr. Allan confirmed this in his oral evidence here:

22 Q. What about the stomach contents?
23 A. I examined it for the presence of paracetamols as well
24 as measuring the contents and visually inspecting the
25 contents.

The consequence of this failure of measurement of dextropropoxyphene in the stomach is that we cannot be sure that ANY co-proxamol was ever in the stomach of the Harrowdown Hill body.

Given that Dr. Hunt gives "coproxamol ingestion" as the secondary cause of death, the omission of any direct evidence of co-proxamol in the stomach is a serious omission indeed.

And a fundamental misinterpretation by Lord Hutton.

The error in interpretation of the toxicology by Lord Hutton may have contributed to his erroneous overall conclusion of suicide.

It seems to me that Lord Hutton's failure to take sufficient care correctly to interpret the facts presented to him are ipso facto evidence of insufficiency of inquiry.

I would be grateful if you would confirm receipt of this email and that the information contained in it will be drawn to the attention of the Attorney General.

Thank you.

(Dr) Andrew Watt

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