News Brief – October 22, 2010
Britain released secret medical files on Friday in an effort to silence conspiracy theories concerning the death of former U.N. Iraq weapons expert David Kelly.
Kelly, was found dead in 2003 after being named as the source of report which accused Tony Blair’s government of exaggerating the military threat posed by Iraq to help build the case for war.
Kelly’s death was one of the biggest controversies of Blair’s time in office and led to much speculation about what was really behind his death.
In 2004 an inquiry concluded that Dr Kelly slit his left wrist in the countryside near his home, although very little blood was found at the scene.
Medical experts have since questioned whether Kelly’s injuries were severe enough for him to bleed to death.
Judge Lord Hutton who led the inquiry into Kelly’s death asked that post mortem papers remain classified for 70 years to protect the weapons inspector’s family, although he did not elaborate on what exactly they would be protected from.
However, the government announced the release of the papers after only seven years in an effort to silence continued speculation over Kelly’s death.
According to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, the papers were being released to ensure “public confidence in the inquiry into how Dr Kelly came by his death”.
A group of doctors wrote to the newspapers in August arguing that the wound on Kelly’s wrist was “extremely unlikely” to have killed him.
Lawmaker Norman Baker, who investigated the death for a year, told Reuters in an interview in November 2007 that he was convinced Kelly had been murdered.
He wrote a book that claimed Iraqis close to Saddam had killed Kelly in revenge for his work as a weapons inspector. He alleged that Britain’s secret services had covered up the murder due to its political sensitivity.
Hutton said in a statement the medical papers had been available to lawyers representing parties at his inquiry.
“There was no secrecy surrounding the post-mortem report,” he said. “I requested, not ‘ordered’, that the post mortem report should not be disclosed for 70 years. I made this request solely in order to protect Dr Kelly’s widow and daughters for the remainder of their lives.”
Judge Lord Hutton did not elaborate in his statement as to how the release of the papers would protect Kelly’s widow and daughters or what they would be protected from.
If anything the release of the papers, which shed no new light on Dr Kelly’s death and only reinforce the official version of events, will only fuel further speculation over what really happened to Dr David Kelly.
See our files on Dr David Kelly’s death