Top police officers to give evidence

TOP Scotland Yard police officers and high-ranking Government officials will be called to give evidence at the inquest of Suffolk photographer Julie Ward who was brutally murdered in Kenya.

TOP Scotland Yard police officers and high-ranking Government officials will be called to give evidence at the inquest of Suffolk photographer Julie Ward who was brutally murdered in Kenya.

The Suffolk Coroner's office has confirmed the long-awaited inquest will finally take place on Monday, April 26 at County Hall, Ipswich, almost 16 years after the 28-year-old Suffolk adventurer's charred and mutilated remains where found on the Masai Mara game reserve.

The EADT has learned that up to 25 witnesses are listed to attend the inquest, which is expected to last a week.

Among those being called, or invited, to give evidence are leading Scotland Yard police officers and high-ranking officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who were involved in the original investigation into Miss Ward's death, an inquiry her hotelier father John Ward claims was seriously flawed.

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Mr Ward hopes the inquest will provide a vital stepping-stone to finally uncovering the identity of his daughter's killers and subsequently bring them to justice.

"I think the inquest will be very helpful and I am looking forward to it. In 1999 I asked questions of Scotland Yard and the Foreign Office that still haven't been answered. Some of those people will now be called and I will have the opportunity to ask those questions again in the public domain," he said.

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"I have a list of the people being called and it includes those who have been involved from the very beginning, including Scotland Yard officers, doctors and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I hope all the people invited will attend and answer all the questions honestly."

The Kenyan authorities originally claimed Ms Ward, who had been on an eight-month trip travelling through Africa photographing wildlife, had been attacked and eaten by wild animals.

However, thanks to his own dogged determination Mr Ward presented evidence which forced the Kenyan authorities to admit his daughter had been murdered. A Kenyan inquest later upheld Mr Ward's allegations of murder, but still nobody has been convicted of her killing.

Since his daughter's death Mr Ward, who runs the Butterfly chain of hotels, has fought tirelessly to uncover the truth.

His mission has seen him make more than 100 trips to Kenya, where he discovered his daughter was abducted, held captive and then murdered.

Two criminal trials have been held against Kenyan park rangers who were charged with Ms Ward's murder, but on both occasions the suspects were acquitted.

Mr Ward has since gathered written documents and tape recordings that, together with his misgivings over the original investigations carried out by Scotland Yard and the Foreign Office, led to Lincolnshire police to carry out an independent review of the case.

Officers from Lincolnshire police are also expected to attend to inquest to answer questions on their findings.

Although a UK inquest was opened into Ms Ward's death in 1988, a hearing has never taken place. Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean has now decided to hold a full inquest into the death.

Mr Ward, 70, of Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, added: "The ultimate answers over Julie's death are still in Kenya, but the inquest should provide a vital stepping-stone that will be of assistance to the on-going investigation.

"I believe it may answer questions that will eventually lead to those responsible for her death. I am very pleased the inquest is finally happening after more than 15 years."

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