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Dr. David Kelly

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

The Oxfordshire coroner opened and adjourned the inquest into the death of Dr. David Kelly on 17 July 2003. He resumed the inquest on 14 August 2003 to admit post-mortem evidence from the Home Office pathologist and a toxicology report. He then adjourned the inquest as directed by the Lord Chancellor pending Lord Hutton’s public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Kelly. Having read the Hutton report, the coroner announced at an open hearing on 16 March 2004 that there was no exceptional reason to resume the inquest.

The Minister will be aware that under the 1984 coroner’s rules, as amended in 2002, where an inquest has been adjourned for any reason, an interim certificate of death shall be issued, which accepts that the death has occurred without giving the precise reasons for the death. Why, then, did the Oxfordshire coroner, on 18 August—barely a week after Lord Hutton began taking evidence—issue a full death certificate giving reasons for the death? What was the point of the Hutton inquiry if the death certificate already gave the reasons?

The Hutton report obviously ranged much more widely, which is one of the reasons why a further inquest by the Oxfordshire coroner was not necessary.