Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Death of David Kelly - A timeline about inquest sessions, burial etc

In this post I'm attempting to move towards a detailed timeline which looks at the sequence of events regarding the sessions of the stump inquest conducted by Nicholas Gardiner QC, the Oxfordshire Coroner and various events relating to the issuing of a death certificate, arrangement of the burial of the body etc

I think the timeline below is very close to being fully accurate but, because of the gaps in the publicly available evidence, there is some "inspired" guesswork at play too.

Comments and corrections are welcome. Suggestions for further items to be added to a later version of this timeline would be particularly welcome.

  • 18th July 2003 09.20 - A body widely assumed to be that of Dr. David Kelly is found in woodland at Harrowdown Hill, Oxfordshire.

  • 19th July 2003 11.25 - Janice Kelly is said to have formally identified the body found at Harrowdown Hill. No evidence was given at the Hutton Inquiry to establish who that body might have been. Nor, so far as I can establish, was any evidence of formal identification given at any of the sessions of the stump inquest.

  • 19th July 2003 - Dr. Nicholas Hunt prepares his initial postmortem report (which, incidentally, has never been made public) giving a preliminary cause of death.

  • 21st July 2003 - Nicholas Gardiner opens and adjourns the inquest into the death of the body found at Harrowdown Hill.

  • 25th July 2003 - Dr. Nicholas Hunt prepares a further (and final) version of the postmortem report. The cause of death given in this postmortem report is not the same as that in the preliminary cause of death in the report of 19th July 2003. He states that there is no reason to retain the body.

  • 25th July 2003 - Nicholas Gardiner, the Coroner, releases the body (presumably in response to Dr. Hunt's comment in the postmortem report of the same day).

  • 4th August 2003 - Sarah Albon, private secretary to Lord Falconer (in his role as Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, I think) writes to convey to Nicholas Gardiner that Section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988 was, at least in Lord Falconer's view, being applied to the death of David Kelly.

  • 6th August 2003 - The funeral of David Kelly is held at St. Mary's Church, Longworth, Oxfordshire, some 12 days after the body is released by the coroner (25th July 2003). The body is buried.

  • 11th August 2003 - Nicholas Gardiner meets with Sarah Bernstein, Michael Collon and Victor Round (possibly at the Department of Constitutional Affairs).

  • 14th August 2003 - Nicholas Gardiner holds a very brief inquest session to admit the written postmortem report of 25th July 2003 from Dr. Nicholas Hunt and the toxicology report by Dr. Alexander Allan.

  • 18th August 2003 - A death certificate for David Kelly is issued.

  • 28th January 2004 - The Hutton Report is published.

  • 16th March 2004 - Nicholas Gardiner declines to resume the inquest into the death of Dr. David Kelly, which had been adjourned from 14th August 2003.


  1. The press conferences and press releases of the 18th and 19th are interesting and worthy of inclusion.
    This 20 July 2003 Observer article by Jason Burke contains a curious statement:
    "Details from the post-mortem examination, completed yesterday morning after the identification of the body at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital by his widow ended the mystery over how, if not why, the microbiologist died.

  2. Brian Spencer is also looking at similar questions to those I raised in this post.

    See Friday morning - and Mrs Kelly talks of her husband's suicide .

  3. Oops. My preceding comment related to another post.