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Doctors covered up Brian Magill's death, widow Bernie tells coroner

By Cate McCurry

Published 14/01/2016

Bernie Magill at a previous court hearing
Bernie Magill at a previous court hearing
Brian Magill

A widow has accused leading doctors of covering up mistakes that allegedly led to her husband's controversial hospital death.

A post-mortem examination found liver cancer caused the death of retired bank manager Brian Magill (66) in December 1999, but his widow Bernie said he died of blood poisoning caused by a perforated bile duct.

Doctors were previously cleared of medical negligence in a trial lasting 45 days.

However, in February last year Attorney General John Larkin asked for a fresh probe into the circumstances surrounding the death after saying the case involved "various public safety issues" which should be examined in a Coroner's Court.

During yesterday's preliminary inquest hearing, Mrs Magill, who is representing herself, claimed that the truth of how her husband had met his death had "not been revealed".

Among a number of issues raised during the hearing were the disclosure of communications between Mrs Magill and Mr Larkin and Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan.

Barrister Brett Lockhart, representing Dr John Collins, a consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and Dr Tommy Diamond, told the hearing that transparency in the inquest had to be a "two-way thing".

"Communication with the Attorney General and the Lord Chief Justice is fundamental to a fair hearing - we want to see these documents," he told Coroner Brian Sherrard.

Mrs Magill then called for access to medical notes and police statements from the time of her husband's death.

"If I don't get access to these documents, then they are impeding me of my rights and I can't fully participate in the inquest," she said.

Mr Magill's widow then claimed that the error that led to her husband's death "has not been disclosed".

"I was also told in December 1999 that there was an intent to cover it up, and that is what has happened," she said.

However, Mr Sherrard moved to assure Mrs Magill there would be full disclosure during the inquest. "I will put your mind at rest," he said.

Mr Sherrard made a proposal to look at the judgment from the civil case, which ended in January 2010.

He told the court that he was considering what value the judgment was to the inquest, and asked for written submissions from legal representatives to be sent before the inquest begins in March.

"We have a lengthy judgment, and we need to focus on what that tells us and what it does not tell us and how the Attorney (General) raises issues of disparity," he said.

Turning to Mrs Magill, he added: "I am cognisant of your concerns, but I can't focus exclusively on your concerns."

However, the widow claimed the civil case would restrict the inquest, and said she intended to appeal the High Court judgment.

Following a heated exchange Robert Miller, representing Professor Roy Spence, a consultant surgeon who was in charge of Mr Magill's care, claimed Mrs Magill was looking someone to confess to something for which there was "no documentary evidence".

Mr Lockhart also told the court that while Mrs Magill was a personal litigant, she was not entitled to different rules.

He claimed that she made "remarkable conspiracy theories" and that she should not be making outrageous remarks.

The inquest has been scheduled for March 4.

Belfast Telegraph

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