Police reopen file on Caithness death

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POLICE are to re-open their investigation into the death of the Countess of Caithness following complaints from her parents, writes Peter Victor. Thames Valley detectives said last night that they plan to look at a number of issues surrounding Lady Caithness's suicide.

The new investigation is thought to centre on a difference of three hours between the time of the shooting given by her husband and times reported by two other witnesses at the inquest.

Lord Caithness, who resigned as Transport Minister on the day after his 40-year-old wife's death, told an inquest in January that he heard her shoot herself with a shotgun at around 6.30pm on 8 January as he played cards downstairs with their 15-year-old daughter, Iona.

But Jane Lambert, a neighbour in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, reported hearing 'a loud bang like a gunshot' at around 3pm. And Dr John Goves, the family doctor, said he was called at 6pm and that by the time he arrived at 6.30pm Lady Caithness appeared to have been dead for around three hours. Lady Caithness is said to have been distressed by her husband's relationship with 44-year-old Jan Fitzalan-Howard.

Her parents, Major Richard and Molly Coke, wrote to the police complaining about the alleged faults with the inquiry. Det Supt Tom Morrison, head of Thames Valley CID, said: 'Thames Valley police are carrying out a review of some issues which did not come out at the inquest.'

(Photograph omitted)