Top Tory backs Kelly inquest calls
Former Conservative leader Michael Howard has thrown his weight behind demands for a full inquest into the death of the government weapons expert Dr David Kelly.
His call came after a group of prominent experts described the official explanation for the scientist's death seven years ago as "extremely unlikely".
Lord Howard - who is now a Tory peer - said their intervention 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 a national newspaper.
"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". He also found that the scientist took an overdose of a painkiller and he was suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition.
However, in a letter to The Times, the eight experts insisted the conclusion was unsafe. They argued that a severed ulnar artery, the wound found to Dr Kelly's wrist, was unlikely to be life-threatening unless an individual had a blood clotting deficiency.
The signatories included a former coroner, Michael Powers, a former deputy coroner, Margaret Bloom, and Julian Bion, a professor of intensive care medicine.