Popular figure cut down by disease
Steve Connor investigates David Carr's background and finds relatives shocked at suggestions he was gay
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Friday 24 March 1995
David Carr, an apprentice printer, spent his National Service in the Royal Navy between 7 November 1955 and 6 November 1957. According to the Royal Navy, Carr served as a rating, probably a caterer or steward, at ``several shore establishments'' in the United Kingdom.
His only known trip overseas was a two-week visit to Gibralter aboad HMS Whitby. Some commentators have suggested that it was then that Carr made the ferry crossing to Tangier, a ``hotbed'' of vice at that time, according to some naval sources.There is, however, no evidence that he did.
The young David Carr was a keen footballer, playing for Central Rovers, a team made up of local boys from the same housing estate in Reddish, just north of Stockport, Greater Manchester. After school he spent four years as an apprentice linotype operator for the Manchester Evening Chronicle before doing his two years' national service.
He was engaged to be married and had been ``popular'' with a number of girls, according to a cousin who told the press in 1990 that ``David was no homosexual''. His former fiance, who now lives in Australia, also denied that he was ever homosexual.
In 1957, Carr developed a chronic inflamation of the gums and, a year later, non-irritant lesions of the skin on his back and shoulders. He received dermatological treatment, which included a course of X-rays. By the end of 1958, he became chronically ill, which led to his admission to hospital the following year.
Although Carr's death certificate says that he died of Wegener's granulomatosis, an exceptionally rare disease, it became apparent at the post mortem that he actually died of pneumonia.
This was almost certainly due to an immune deficiency but the cause of this remains unknown. What is known is that there is now no evidence that David Carr was ever infected with HIV.
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