Guardian : The doctors in the Ian Tomlinson case: a tale of two pathologists

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The doctors in the Ian Tomlinson case: a tale of two pathologists

Audrey Gillan | April 18, 2009

Dr Nathaniel Cary

Cary, who performed the second postmortem and concluded that Ian Tomlinson died of abdominal haemorrhage, is one of the country's top pathologists. He has garnered fame for conducting follow-up autopsies that show inadequacies in tests originally carried out by others in his profession.

He questioned the findings that the Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer had been murdered in his hotel room in Jamaica, concluding this was wrong. After carrying out a second autopsy he ruled that Woolmer had died of heart failure.

Cary was also employed to investigate the death of Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a bomb attack in Rawalpindi after it was claimed she had been killed by a bullet wound. Cary wrote that the rapidly fatal head injury was sustained because of the bomb blast. And he was employed by the family of Harold Shipman to carry out his own inquiry into the death of the former GP turned serial killer who was found hanged in his cell. Cary said Shipman's death "could have been murder".

Dr Freddy Patel

Patel, who conducted the first postmortem and concluded that Ian Tomlinson had died of a heart attack, was once reprimanded about his professional conduct by the General Medical Council after he released medical details about Roger Sylvester, a 30-year-old black man who died in police custody.

He told reporters: "I am aware from the medical records ... that Mr Sylvester was a user of crack cocaine." Sylvester's family were devastated by the suggestion and contested that he been a user.

In a second case, which raised questions about Dr Patel's findings, police dropped a criminal investigation after the pathologist gave it as his opinion that the victim, Sally White, had died of natural causes. Anthony Hardy, a psychiatrically-disturbed alcoholic, who lived in the flat where the body was found, went on to murder two other women and mutilate their bodies.