Attorney General refuses to open David Kelly files: Papers hold key to fresh inquest
By James Slack
Attorney General Dominic Grieve is refusing to open secret files which hold the key to David Kelly’s death, it has emerged.
The decision on whether to order an inquest hinges on a bundle of documents which are locked in a Whitehall safe for up to 70 years.
They include the post-mortem examination report and other sensitive medical notes.
A group of doctors insists that the weapons inspector could not have committed suicide and bled to death in the way described by the official Hutton Inquiry.
They have called for Mr Grieve to open the files, in the hope that they will provide the evidence he needs to petition the High Court for an inquest.
But Mr Grieve is refusing to look at them, despite having the legal power to gain immediate access.
Instead, he is insisting that justice secretary Ken Clarke makes a decision on whether to release them.
This is despite the fact that Mr Grieve wrote to campaigners while in opposition saying he ‘would review’ all the associated medical and scientific records.
He was shadow justice secretary at the time. Now he is arguing that it would be ‘extremely unusual’ for him to ask for the papers.
He said Mr Clarke should decide whether to release the papers to the doctors, who would then pass them on to him, even though he could walk across Whitehall and collect them today.
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Grieve said: ‘The Attorney General has no investigative function. Whilst he could ask for the papers it would be extremely unusual for him to take a proactive step of that kind.’
Dr Kelly’s body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 after he was identified as the source of a BBC story claiming the Labour government ‘sexed up’ its dossier on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.
Instead of a normal inquest, the Government set up the Hutton Inquiry to investigate the death. It concluded that Dr Kelly took his own life.
Lord Hutton then ordered the documents relating to the case be classified for 70 years.
Mr Grieve’s comments came as he said that he had not yet seen any new evidence to justify holding an inquest.
He also said there was ‘not a shred of evidence’ that there had been a cover-up.
Nine doctors have written an open letter casting grave doubt on the verdict that Dr Kelly died from loss of blood after cutting a small artery in his wrist. Mr Grieve has also been sent a medical report by a group of eminent doctors suggesting it would have been ‘impossible’ for Dr Kelly to lose sufficient blood through the artery to kill him.
The Attorney General said: ‘It’s right to say that hunches, theories are not enough – there has to be evidence. And if the evidence is available and people feel that they have the evidence, then if they send it to me it will be considered’.
He added: ‘I have no reason to think… and not a shred of evidence to suggest that there has been a cover up.
‘I know that some people have put some theories forward but if you’re going to put a theory forward like that you need some evidence and as matters stand at the moment I haven’t seen any evidence. But if there is any evidence my office is the place to send it to.’
Mr Grieve stressed that he had to take account of the feelings of Dr Kelly’s close family, who have not called for a fresh investigation.
Yesterday it was publicly stated for the first time that Dr Kelly’s relatives do not want an inquiry.
By placing responsibility for the sensitive decision at Mr Clarke’s door, Mr Grieve risks causing irritation within the Government.
The principal cause of death accepted by Lord Hutton was bleeding from a severed ulnar artery.
But Detective Constable Graham Coe, who found the body, said earlier this month that there had not been much blood at the scene.
Those calling for an inquest also include ex-Home Secretary Lord Howard, former Labour defence minister Peter Kilfoyle and the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker.
Dr Andrew Davison, a Home Office pathologist, responded to the calls by saying that the circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death were ‘not a game of Cluedo’ and should be left to the experts.