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Full inquest urged into Kelly death

The Hutton Inquiry insufficiently scrutinised the medical evidence surrounding the death of former government weapons inspector David Kelly, a former assistant deputy coroner has said.

Dr Michael Powers QC, one of a group of prominent experts who described the official explanation for the scientist's death seven years ago as "extremely unlikely", said more medical evidence was needed as he called for a full inquest into Dr Kelly's death.

As former Conservative leader Michael Howard threw his weight behind the demands, Dr Powers told Channel 4 News: "There was insufficient examination of the medical circumstances in Lord Hutton's inquiry.

"Of the 24 days Lord Hutton viewed evidence, he spent less than half a day, which works out at no more than 2% of the whole proceedings, going through the medical evidence. The whole medical evidence can be read in less than 30 minutes."

He said that in circumstances where there was an unlikely primary cause of death, more medical evidence needed to be examined. Dr Powers added he could not see any justification for keeping Dr Kelly's medical files a secret for 70 years, as recommended by Lord Hutton.

On Sunday, Lord Howard - who is now a Tory peer - said the intervention by Dr Powers and other experts confirmed his belief that there should now be a proper inquest.

"In view of the growing number of relevant questions that have arisen and cast doubt on on the conclusions reached by Lord Hutton, I believe it would now be appropriate for a full inquest to be held," he told The Mail on Sunday.

"Recent evidence by the first police officer on the scene, together with new statements by doctors raise serious questions which should be considered. This has been on my mind for quite a while and recent events have crystallised my view."

Dr Kelly's body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 after he was identified as the source of a BBC story claiming the Government "sexed up" its now notorious dossier on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

In the outcry that followed, Tony Blair appointed Lord Hutton to head a public inquiry into his death. Unusually, the then lord chancellor, Lord Falconer, ruled it should also act as an inquest. Lord Hutton concluded that Dr Kelly took his own life and that the principal cause of death was "bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist which Dr Kelly had inflicted on himself with the knife found beside his body".

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