Coroner rules against fresh Kelly hearing

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The Independent Online

The coroner today ruled that the inquest into the death of Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly is not to be reconvened.

Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner, said at a special hearing today that there were no exceptional circumstances to justify reconvening the inquest into the weapons expert's death.

His ruling follows a representation from Jeremy Gompertz QC, representing Dr Kelly's family, who told the coroner that in the view of the family there were no exceptional reasons to justify such a move.

The inquest into Dr Kelly's death was adjourned last year under Section 17A of the 1998 Coroner's Act while the Hutton Inquiry was taking place.

Mr Gompertz told the court the Kelly family accepted Lord Hutton's findings "as to the mode and approximate cause of Dr Kelly's death".

"The family is however disappointed that Lord Hutton did not consider more fully the extent to which the state of mind in which Dr Kelly took his own life was induced by the failings of the Ministry of Defence in the exercise of the duty of care owed to him as his employer", he added.

Mr Gardiner said during the 15–minute hearing that he had taken into account the Coroner's Act, the extent of Lord Hutton's public inquiry and any other considerations under human rights legislation.

He concluded there was still no ground for a resumption of the inquest.

He said he had received a large amount of correspondence from interested parties, including three letters this morning.

But he added: "These proceedings do not represent a resumption of the inquest and it is not my intention to hear any evidence."

He said he had informed those whom he considered to be "properly interested persons" before today's hearing but said it was not proper for him to engage in any correspondence.

"No properly interested persons have attempted to persuade me otherwise. The only representations were, in fact, in the opposite direction," he said.

"This hearing will do little to put an end to the controversy relating to the death of Dr Kelly. I would express the wish that at least his widow and family be allowed to grieve in peace.

"I express sympathies to them and all his friends and colleagues."

Mr Gardiner said although he had received correspondence from medical experts, including forensic pathologists, even a full inquest would yield differences in opinion.

"It is not exceptional for experts to disagree among themselves, in fact, it would be exceptional if they were to all agree," he said.

Mr Gardiner said he could not even consider the option of an inquest resumption until 28 days after the release of the Hutton Report's findings and following that only in exceptional circumstances.

He said as well as receiving a substantial amount of correspondence from "people who believed themselves who have relevant information to offer", he had been given access by Detective Chief Inspector Alan Young of Thames Valley Police to photographs, records, interview transcripts, statements and "a great deal else".

He added that one reason for an inquest resumption would be if the inquiry had not fully investigated the cause of death.

"I do not believe this to be the case. My feeling is that the Lord Chancellor's belief in the adequacy of the inquiry was well founded."