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Law lord heads Kelly inquiry

Hutton is one of 12 judges in the UK's highest court, the House of Lords.
Hutton is one of 12 judges in the UK's highest court, the House of Lords.

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LONDON, England -- The man appointed to head the judicial inquiry into the death of British weapons inspector David Kelly has experience on delicate cases.

Law Lord James Hutton asserted his independence on Monday, insisting he alone would decide the scope of his investigation into Kelly's apparent suicide.

Hutton's career began in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles, and he is now among Britain's most senior judges.

He is one of 12 judges in the UK's highest court, the House of Lords.

Regarded as a conservative, he will become one of 12 Supreme Court judges under government plans to remove the top court from parliament.

One of Hutton's highest-profile cases was that of controversial Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

He was a member of the British defense team in 1978 at the European Court of Human Rights when Britain was found guilty of ill-treating internees in 1971.

Hutton also was on the bench that decided that former MI5 agent David Shayler was not acting in the public interest when he disclosed secrets about the security services.

Hutton came to the Lords in 1997 after a nine-year stint as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

Hutton, 72, was born in Belfast and educated in a traditional boys' boarding school in Shrewsbury before attending Balliol College at Oxford, where he studied jurisprudence.

He studied at Queen's University in Belfast before being called to the Northern Ireland bar in 1954.

Hutton was made junior counsel to Northern Ireland's attorney general in 1969 when the Troubles erupted. At one time during his legal career in Northern Ireland, it was thought he was a top target for the Irish Republican Army.

He was called to the English bar in 1972 and was knighted in 1988. Hutton is married with two daughters.

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