Monday, 12 July 2010

How to Trigger a Full Review of the David Kelly Case

There has been a lot of public pressure recently, attempting to "force" the new Coalition government of the United Kingdom into holding a review into the case of David Kelly.
There have even been some allegations that incoming ministers are somehow colluding with Tony Blair to keep everything secret.

From Medawar's own contacts with the Ministry of Justice, a subtly different picture emerges.

Relevant papers in the David Kelly were highly classified by the outgoing government, as, incidentally, was the report by a Sergeant Hughes, into why Scottish Authorities missed dozens of chances over twenty years to prosecute Thomas Hamilton prior to the Dunblane Massacre. When this level of classification is invoked by a given government, they have the option to seal all relevant papers from that government's successors. This would appear to be what has happened: incoming ministers wanted an inquiry, but the civil service simply cannot let them see the sealed papers until something in the legal situation changes to make it the official business of the new Coalition. Ministers are effectively stymied from even saying in public what their problem is. They are in a legal bear-trap of Tony Blair's devising, and this may not be the only matter on which papers which the new government really ought to see, are barred from it.

Here is a little hint:
Ministry of Justice Officials refer to "recent publicity" about a group of doctors having prepared a application to the Attorney General under section 13 of the Coroner's Act 1988, to reconsider the decision made by the coroner, to adjourn the inquest under section 17A of the same act. However, the ministry finds that the application has not been formally submitted.

The Daily Mail has also published evidence from Mai Pederson, about Dr Kelly's physical frailities which would have prevented him from committing suicide in the manner presumed by Lord Hutton. (Like Lord Cullen's inquiry into Dunblane, Hutton's official remit made it impossible for him to ask the relevant questions, so no blame can really attach to them for any omissions. In Cullen's case, the omissions are very largely made good by Sergeant Hughes' now highly classified investigation and report.) But Ms Pederson seems to have communicated her evidence, separately and informally, to the Attorney General, where it is probably trapped by Mr Blair having apparently given the Cabinet Secretary formal notice that this is a matter which he considers necessary to keep secret from the new government.

If Ms Pederson were to send her evidence to the group of doctors, and if they were to formally submit their application under section 13 of the Coroner's Act 1988, to the new Attorney General, then the matter would cease to be an historical case on which the Blair administration is given protection from its successors. The new Attorney General would see the papers which, currently, he probably has less chance of accessing than he did as an opposition MP!

That would remove the principle barrier to progress on this issue.

As for Timothy Hampton:
The Ministry says that it has been unable to determine whether or not his remains, (or any part thereof,) has been returned to England and Wales. If they have been (or if they were), then the presence of the body in his district must be reported to the relevant coroner and then, since Dr Hampton apparently died in a fall, an inquest would normally be held, in accordance to the appeal court decision of 1983 in the case of Helen Smith.

There may be an equivalent legal challenge in Scotland, that would have the same paper-releasing effect on Sergeant Hughes' report, but Medawar cannot at the moment say what this is, only that Mr Blair went to even more extraordinary lengths to keep something secret there, than he did over the death of David Kelly.

So, if this blog is read by any of the relevant personnel:
It's not a matter of a legal battle against the new government, merely a need for a formal legal initiative to make this their business in the eyes of a Cabinet Secretary who is obliged, by laws meant for somewhat higher purposes than Mr Blair's shenanigans, to respect the confidentiality of anything that Mr Blair chose to designate a private matter for his own government.

The ball is currently in your court. The Coalition Government need you to pass the ball into their court, before they have any power to do anything with it. Do this, and who knows what they might find!

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