Richard Ingrams: There are some official decisions that defy belief

Notebook

Share
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

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

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

‘They’ve seen the future – and got it for a song’: the unlikely history of Canary Wharf

Jack Brown
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee