Death of a conspiracy theory?

The pathologist who performed David Kelly’s post-mortem speaks out.

The pathologist Nicholas Hunt, who performed the post-mortem examination of Dr David Kelly, has spoken out to the Sunday Times today.

He describes the death as a "textbook" case of suicide and says with interesting candour that he had "every reason to look for something untoward and would dearly love to have found something". However, in his view, "it was an absolute classic case of self-inflicted injury".

So, will this put an end to the conspiracy theories surrounding Kelly's death? Probably not. Ever since it was revealed that Lord (Brian) Hutton had ordered all files relating to Kelly's death to remain secret for 70 years, rumours have circulated, adding to pressure on the government to hold a further inquest. The publication of a letter in the Times by a group of doctors and legal experts who doubted the evidence around Kelly's death was consistent with suicide intensified the pressure even further.

Last week, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, said that those calling for a new inquest may "have a valid point", but insisted he would need new evidence before complying with their demands. For his part, Hunt said he would welcome an inquest and had nothing to hide.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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