David Kelly’s death: Files show ‘heavy bloodstaining’

By Alex Stevenson

The initial post-mortem report into weapons inspector David Kelly’s death has been released by the government, contradicting suggestions there was little blood visible where his body was recovered.

Pathologist Nicholas Hunt’s report described “heavy bloodstaining” over the left arm, where “at least five incised wounds” were identified.

The publication is likely to lay to rest allegations that Dr Kelly did not kill himself. Mr Hunt had earlier told the Sunday Times he judged the case to have been a “textbook” suicide.

Dr Kelly took his own life after finding himself at the centre of a power struggle between the government and the BBC.

He died shortly after being uncovered as the source behind a BBC story alleging that spin doctors had ‘sexed up’ a dossier of intelligence used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The cause of death given by the Hutton inquiry was “bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist which Dr Kelly had inflicted on himself”.

But this August a group of senior figures concluded the suggestion Dr Kelly’s death was caused by haemorrhage was “extremely unlikely” because “insufficient blood would have been lost to threaten life”.

The post-mortem released today described lighter bloodstaining over the back of the fingers and palm of the right hand and “a pool of blood in an area running from the left arm of the deceased for a total distance in the order of two to three feet”.

It also noted a white metal pruning-type knife or gardener’s knife, with its blade extended from the handle, lying adjacent to a bloodstained wristwatch.

The toxicology report stated that Dr Kelly had taken a large number of painkillers. A bloodstained waterbottle was found next to his body.

“The paracetamol concentration is much higher than would be expected for therapeutic use but lower than would normally be expected in paracetamol fatalities if no other factors or drugs were involved,” it said.

The post-mortem report concluded that the bleeding was “entirely consistent with being inflicted with a bladed weapon”.

Lord Hutton had said the post-mortem and toxicology reports should be kept classified for 70 years to protect Dr Kelly’s family.

But justice secretary Ken Clarke took the decision to release the files to dispel conspiracy theories about the weapons inspector’s death.

The Ministry of Justice said the details were being published to help maintain “public confidence” in the Hutton inquiry.