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Kelly: vital report ‘is lost’

Posted by seumasach on September 13, 2010

Chris Hastings

Daily Mail

12tyh September, 2010

The controversy over the death of Government scientist Dr David Kelly has deepened after ambulance chiefs admitted that a vital medical record relating to the case has vanished.

The South Central Ambulance NHS Trust has lost the Patient Report Form (PRF) completed by paramedic Vanessa Hunt, who attended the scene of the former weapons inspector’s death in 2003.

The disclosure will inevitably fuel demands for a full inquest into his death.

A leading coroner yesterday said that the form is one of the key documents at an inquest as it provides a record of any incident, as recorded at the time. Ambulance crews called upon to give evidence would normally rely only on the information contained in the document.

Dr Michael Powers QC, who is leading the group of doctors campaigning for an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death, described the loss of the paperwork as ‘quite frankly astonishing’.

He said: ‘The fact that such an important document has gone missing simply strengthens the case for an inquest.

‘It was clear to everyone at the time that Dr Kelly’s death was a very significant event and the value of all contemporaneous documents should have been recognised. All documents should have been carefully copied.’

However, the trust says it can’t find either the original document or a copy scanned into its computer system, even though it has a policy of storing such documents for ten years.

And Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has long maintained that Dr Kelly was murdered, last night described the loss of the file as ‘unfortunate to say the least’.

At the Hutton Inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death, Ms Hunt and her colleague David Bartlett confirmed that they examined Dr Kelly’s body. They said they lifted his eyelids, felt his neck for a pulse and applied a heart monitor to his chest.

All ambulance crews have to fill out the form for every call-out, irrespective of whether a patient is alive or dead. They record a wide range of medical information including pulse rates, blood pressure and any skin condition.

At the time, the paramedics worked for the Oxfordshire Ambulance Trust, which has since merged with three others to form the South Central Ambulance NHS Trust. A spokeswoman for the trust yesterday confirmed that a form was completed for Dr Kelly, but subsequently lost.

The admission follows a year-long wrangle over a Freedom of Information request for documents concerning Dr Kelly’s death.

They included communications between the trust and the paramedics, minutes of any relevant meetings, and all correspondence with the coroner.

After waiting more than the statutory 20 working days deadline for replies, the trust eventually claimed it held no relevant information. A complaint was then lodged with the Information Commissioner. During the course of these follow-up inquiries the trust admitted it had mislaid the PRF.

In his ruling, which will be made public this week, the commissioner states: ‘[The trust] explained that it would have expected to have had a PRF. It explained that this form would only include clinical  assessment information about Dr Kelly and would not contain any other information. It explained that this form had been mislaid.

It explained that the information was usually digitised and held electronically by date in its PRF archives.

‘However, having checked its system for all the entries on the date of the incident, and the dates one day either side to ensure it was not misfiled, it could not find the relevant form. It was supposed to keep this form for ten years in line with its policy. The Commissioner has checked what this form would contain and is satisfied that it would only contain clinical assessment information.’

The loss of the documents will increase pressure for an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death. This week, campaigners will make a formal application to the Attorney General to go to the High Court and demand such an inquest.

The PRF was not listed in the register of evidence supplied to the Hutton Inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death. The 2004 report, which concluded that Dr Kelly killed himself by slitting his wrists, was immediately branded a whitewash.

Unanswered concerns include the lack of blood at the scene, even though the inquiry concluded that Dr Kelly bled to death after slashing his wrists. It also recently emerged that Lord Hutton asked the Ministry of Justice to ensure documents relating to the case – including a post-mortem report – stay secret for 70 years.

A spokeswoman for the South Central Ambulance Trust said a PRF for Dr Kelly had been completed but she was under the impression it had been handed to Thames Valley Police. If that was the case the trust should still have kept a copy.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police was unable to comment last night.

The ambulance spokeswoman said about 500,000 PRFs were completed each year, but it was impossible to say how many went missing.

From “comments”

Here are the facts:

1. In the Hutton Report, Chapter 5, Hutton reported seeing a photograph showing Dr Kelly’s head and shoulders against the tree.

2. At least one searcher who found the body (Louise Holmes) reported it in this position.

3. But along comes DC Coe & two “companions”; two leave then Coe stays with body for half and hour.

3. At the Hutton Inquiry, all the witnesses to the body subsequently report the body as lying flat on the ground.

4. Two sets of photographs show the body lying flat on the ground – one set from the police, and another set from forensicis.

So we have at least one photograph of the body against the tree, and others of the body lying flat.

What does that suggest? Either DC Coe moved Dr Kelly’s body — or someone else did.

This is not just a case of witnesses getting confused — there are PHOTOGRAPHS showing the body in at least two different positions.

Rowena Thursby- one of the doctors who originally raised concerns about the Kelly case.

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