Sat, 27, 2003
Coroner 'may reopen inquest into Kelly's death'
Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner said he may ask Thames Valley Police to hand over the evidence if he was not satisfied with Lord Hutton’s findings.
Thames Valley Police admitted that a number of witnesses did not allow their statements to go to the inquiry, but insisted there was nothing “pertinent” in them.
The coroner’s inquest was adjourned under Section 17a of Britain's 1988 Coroners Act, which allows a public inquiry conducted by a judge to fulfil the function of an inquest.
Mr Gardiner said: “I shall in due course have to decide grounds exist to resume the inquest, but I can’t do anything until I see Hutton’s report.
“I may ask the police to see the reports if necessary and then I will decide whether to reopen the inquest. That’s what it boils down to.
“Why these witnesses did not want their evidence to go forward to the inquiry I do not know.”
A Thames Valley Police spokesman refused to confirm reports that one of the individuals was Mai Pederson, the American linguist who introduced Dr Kelly to the Baha’i faith.
But the force’s assistant chief constable, Michael Page, told the Hutton Inquiry earlier this week that Ms Pederson gave a statement to police but it contained nothing of relevance.
It is understood that the individuals took advantage of a clause on the statement form asking if they agreed for their statements to go forward to the inquiry.
Because the Hutton inquiry was a judicial inquiry and not a coroner’s inquest it did not have the power to compel them to do so.
The spokesman added: “I can confirm that there were individuals who did not want their details to be passed on to the inquiry.
“But Thames Valley Police do not consider that any information pertinent to the inquiry has not been passed on.”
The force interviewed some 500 people and took 300 witness statements during the investigation, passing fewer than 70 to Lord Hutton. Most of the others were not deemed relevant by officers.
A spokesman for the Hutton inquiry said the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, would provide Mr Gardiner with a copy of Lord Hutton’s report after receiving it himself.
“The coroner will read it and can make a decision about whether he wishes to reopen the inquest or whether he is satisfied with the findings,” he said.
“Lord Falconer directed that the inquest should not go ahead at the same time as the inquiry to avoid causing more trauma for the Kelly family. After the inquiry it will be up to the coroner.”
The spokesman added: “The Hutton inquiry does not have any statutory powers and so witnesses were perfectly entitled to withhold their statements.”
©Copyright 2003, The Irish Examiner (UK)
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