Richard Ingrams: There are some official decisions that defy belief


Related Topics

The career of Dr Freddy Patel could well inspire a satirical sitcom about a pathologist – the Inspector Clouseau of his profession.

Incidents in a long professional history include his assertion in 2005 that a prostitute had died of natural causes when later a man admitted to her murder and disciplinary action taken against him by the General Medical Council in 1999 over the involvement in the case of Roger Sylvester who died in police custody.

So how was it that this unlucky practitioner was chosen to investigate the death of Ian Tomlinson at last year's anti-G20 demonstration in London? Could the authorities have been ignorant of Dr Patel's record, which includes four post-mortems currently being investigated by the GMC?

Equally mystifying is the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the police officer seen by millions on TV hitting Mr Tomlinson on the grounds that there was a conflict of evidence between Dr Patel's diagnosis of coronary artery disease and that of two other less controversial pathologists – abdominal haemorrhage. Isn't that the sort of issue that a jury would normally be asked to resolve?

There may well be innocent explanations for both these apparent mysteries, but coming so soon after the de Menezes scandal the public could be forgiven for thinking that this might be another cover-up by the authorities to protect the police. But who will make a fuss? Where are the MPs to take up the cudgels and demand answers from the responsible ministers?

Paper's days are not quite numbered

Any old-fashioned citizen struggling to understand the WikiLeaks story must be puzzled by the use of the word documents to describe the massive quantity of secret military reports from Afghanistan that have been posted on the internet by the mysterious Mr Assange.

The idea that there are still documents – ie pieces of paper – being passed about by US government departments seems most unlikely in this age when almost everything is computerised. If there are such things as genuine documents still to be found about the place, it could be a sign that officialdom has realised that it's rather easier to ensure confidentiality by putting it all on paper and keeping it in a locked filing cabinet.

As it happens, the document question arises in the case of Mr Carne Ross, one of two Foreign Office officials to resign over the Iraq war. Mr Ross told the Chilcot inquiry last week that when he asked the Foreign Office for some relevant documents about Iraq, he was told that some of the key ones had gone missing. This suggests that the Foreign Office may still be using pieces of paper for their records. They have concluded not only that it is easier to keep them secret, it's easier to ensure that they go missing if the circumstances demand it.

No thanks – it's way past my bedtime

There are continued rumblings about the cost of the Pope's state visit to Britain next month. But the Pope himself seems to be doing his bit to keep the costs down. If a recent report in the Daily Mail is to be believed, His Holiness has declined the offer of a state banquet at Buckingham Palace on the grounds that he likes to go to bed at 8.30pm.

Another report, this time in the Catholic magazine The Tablet, confirms the story about the state banquet but suggests a different reason for the papal refusal, namely that all popes make it a rule never to be seen eating in public – this presumably on the grounds that it makes them look undignified. (On similar grounds Hitler made it a rule that politicians should never be photographed in a bathing costume.)

Of course it is possible that etiquette dictates that, regardless of the Pope's sleeping and eating habits, the state banquet has to go ahead, presumably with an empty chair at the head of the table. If that is so, the Pope could well be disappointed if, as one thinks, he is concerned about unnecessary expense. In the meantime, some of us ought to think seriously of adopting his 8.30pm bedtime routine – if only as a useful means of getting out of boring dinner party invitations.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power