Police have rejected calls to re-open the inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, the government weapons expert, after two paramedics who found him at the scene of his death said he could not have died from self-inflicted knife wounds.
Dave Bartlett and Vanessa Hunt, both ambulance workers, yesterday spoke out for the first time since the Hutton Inquiry, which concluded that Dr Kelly had committed suicide and died of wounds to the ulnar artery in his left wrist.
The paramedics disputed the findings of the investigation, claiming there was not enough blood at the scene to merit the official conclusions.
They had raised the same concerns while giving evidence to the inquiry last year.
Dr Kelly was found dead in July 2003 shortly after being named as the source of a BBC story which claimed that the government had "sexed-up" a dossier on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
His body was discovered at Harrowdown Hill woods, Oxfordshire, prompting the government to appoint Lord Hutton to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the scientist’s death.
In his report, published in January this year, Lord Hutton concluded that Dr Kelly, 59, had killed himself by cutting his left wrist after taking co-proxamol painkillers, adding that there was no evidence whatsoever that any third party had been involved.
But Ms Hunt, a paramedic with more than ten years’ experience, said yesterday that shortly after arriving at the scene of Dr Kelly’s death she concluded he had not died by slashing his wrists.
She said: "I just think it is incredibly unlikely that he died from the wrist wound we saw. There just wasn’t a lot of blood. When someone cuts an artery, whether accidentally or intentionally, the blood pumps everywhere."
She added: "When we arrived on the scene there was no gaping wound, there wasn’t a puddle of blood around. There was a little bit of blood on the nettles to the left of his left arm. But there was no real blood on the body of the shirt.
"If you manage to cut a wrist and catch an artery you would get a spraying of blood, regardless of whether it’s an accident. Because of the nature of an arterial cut, you get a pumping action. I would certainly expect a lot more blood on his clothing, on his shirt.
"If you choose to cut your wrists, you don’t worry about getting blood on your clothes. I didn’t see any blood on his right hand. If he used his right hand to cut his wrist, you would expect some spray," the paramedic said.
Ms Hunt’s claims were backed yesterday by a number of prominent experts, including Dr Bill McQuillan, a former consultant at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, who for 20 years has dealt with hundreds of wrist accidents.
"I have never seen one death resulting from cutting an ulnar artery," Dr McQuillan said. "I can’t see how he would lose more than a pint of blood by cutting the ulnar."