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HSE to examine make up of panel, says it takes husband's concerns 'extremely seriously'

A face-to-face meeting with Savita Halappanavar’s husband Praveen has been sought after he said he would not cooperate with the investigation.

THE HEALTH SERVICE Executive has told that it is taking the concerns of widowed Galway resident Praveen Halappanavar “extremely seriously”.

Mr Halappanavar told The Irish Times yesterday that he is not satisfied with the presence of three Galway University Hospital staff on the team investigating his wife Savita’s death. He has made it clear that he wants nothing less than an independent examination of the events from after she presented herself with back pain on 21 October to her death on 28 October.

The HSE said it is now re-examining the make up of the seven-person inquiry panel.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the team Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran – the independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology from the UK – has sought a face-to-face meeting with Mr Halappanavar in order to discuss his concerns in relation to the investigation.

The statement from the HSE came after a lawyer for the Halappanavar family told RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny that Praveen had no faith in the process and would not cooperate with it.

Gerard O’Donnell told the presenter that his client would not consent to having Savita’s records looked at by the team. His appearance as a witness would also be in doubt.

“Any inquiry conducted by the HSE does not meet with his approval. He has no faith in the HSE. It’s important to remember that he lost his wife while under the care of the HSE,” continued O’Donnell.

The solicitor added that simply removing the three Galway hospital staff would not be sufficient. The bereaved wants public hearings and witnesses called under oath.

Mr Halappanavar told The Irish Times that he did not believe there would have been an inquiry into his wife’s death had it not been for the outrage seen since he made the tragedy public.

More calls

Ireland’s human rights watchdog has added its voice to the calls for an independent inquiry into the tragedy.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties backed Mr Halappanavar’s request for a “fully independent” investigation.

Director Mark Kelly said the husband raised an “arguable claim that his wife had been seriously ill-treated”. Under human rights law, this places a procedural obligation on the State to conduct an official investigation, he added.

“The proposed inclusion in the inquiry team of three medical consultants from the hospital in which Mr Halappanavar’s wife died manifestly fails to meet this requirement.”

“Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the proposed head of the inquiry team has reportedly suggested that the main reason to have ‘internal people involved’ is to ‘find out about their standard practice’. The appropriate manner to achieve this is to call the persons concerned as witnesses before the inquiry, not to include them as members of it,” concluded Kelly.

RELATED: HSE announces details of Savita Halappanavar investigation>

READ: TDs won’t get to vote on Sinn Féin’s abortion motion. Here’s why>

MORE: In aftermath of Savita death, Richard Branson recalls arrest for selling condoms in Ireland>

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