Now that the dust has settled a bit since the publication on the internet of the report by forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt into Dr Kelly's death I'll make one or two comments. The first thing to say is that as far as the purely medical side of things are concerned I didn't find anything surprising. Having read Dr Hunt's quite detailed testimony at the Hutton Inquiry and been aware of the comments he had been making in the media a little while prior to the publication it would be amazing if I was suddenly shocked. At Hutton Dr Hunt reeled off his conclusions and they appear to match the written words. What we have in the report of course is much more anatomical detail but all I can say here is that it doesn't mean much to me.
To the uninformed person the plethora of individual actions couched in medical terms suggests that here is a man on top of his job doing a thorough examination. But was this the case? So far as the technical side is concerned we need an expert in forensic pathology to go through the report with a fine tooth comb to see whether all the actions that might have been carried out were in fact carried out. Notwithstanding the fact that I don't have a medical background there are some matters I want to comment on.
The first of these isn't medical at all in fact. It concerns a statement made by Dr Hunt in his preamble to carrying out the examination on the afternoon and early evening of the 18th. Before considering that I will just mention for completeness that Dr Hunt states he approached the inner cordon via a farm track and field. He was logged into this inner cordon at 12.04. I'm fairly sure that the farm track is the one running almost parallel and slightly west of the track that searchers and ambulance crew had used earlier that day and would imagine looking at Google Earth that the field is the substantial one that extends to the north of the wood. This is what you will have seen in all those media reports. A number of people judging by what I've read on the internet are under the illusion that the white tent in the pictures is covering Dr Kelly's body. This is not so, the white tent was a place where anyone having to make notes could go to if it started to rain.
Before the examination started Dr Hunt was given some background information by scenes of crime officer (SOCO) Mark Schollar. Dr Hunt notes in his report that Dr Kelly was apparently seen heading for a walk at approximately 1500 hours on the 17th and subsequently seen at 1530 hours walking northwards. If Mr Schollar had been told these two "facts" it suggests to me a certain degree of chaos in the police service that morning because neither of the sightings were verified by the evidence presented at the Inquiry. Mrs Kelly had deduced that her husband left for his walk between about 3 o'clock and 3.20 but she didn't actually see him set out and there was nobody else so far as we know who had. Neighbour Ruth Absalom had met him when she was walking her dog but she intimated her belief at the Inquiry that Dr Kelly had taken the road towards Kingston Bagpuize which is east from where she and Dr Kelly met. It was earlier that morning that DC Coe had fortuitously seen Ms Absalom and one assumes that DC Coe would have relayed this important piece of information to his superiors at an early opportunity.
Turning to matters of a medical nature now we have something I find quite extraordinary and that is the fact that Dr Hunt didn't observe Dr Kelly's rectal temperature until 7.15 in the evening just a few minutes before leaving the site. It has become relatively common knowledge I think that the sooner this temperature is taken the better (it has to be noted at the same time as the outside or ambient temperature). Why? It's a prime indicator of time of death because of course the body is cooling after life functions cease and, using tables, the pathologist is able to give a time window in which he considers death occurred. The sooner this is done the tighter the time window so one would imagine that the pathologist would make this an early task.
Officially this was an "unexplained death" on that Friday but had the police already made up their minds that this was a tragic suicide. If a suicide then time of death although important would be far less critical than that of a murder because the police wouldn't be looking at third party involvement in the death - well only to the point that the actions of a third party could have driven a person to commit suicide (I'm talking in general rather than specific terms now). Back to Dr Kelly and if his death was still in the "unexplained" category I would have thought that the police on site would have been hounding Dr Hunt to try and get an answer as to time of death. In the end Dr Hunt came to a time of death between 16.15 on the 17th and 01.15 on the 18th a very wide band of some nine hours.
In fact we don't know whether Dr Kelly died on the 17th or the 18th of July.