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1.

Introduction
Forensic linguistics for its application in real life and for its involvement in the field
that is capable of influencing the course of ones life has become a very interesting and
pragmatic discipline to study, however, one that is still not very widespread in the Czech
academic setting.
The consideration of how language can shape our society and how it affects the
interpretation of interpersonal behaviour has become topical in the quite recently evolved
disciplines, viz. pragmatics and sociolinguistics, which in their discussion of language are
inherently interdisciplinary, looking for links to the external world and to the internal world of
the individual.
In this thesis I want to endorse these views and thus add to the corpus of literature
focussed on forensic linguistics as studies of legal language are not easily accessible in the
Czech academic setting. I also want to explore this field, which is rather distant to the
majority of people while still significantly affecting their lives, and thus help understand the
operation of the judiciary.

1.1 Glossary of Terms


Conducive Questions
A conducive question is one that shows that a given answer is expected or desired
(Bolinger 1957.96), one where A is taken to show preference for one response rather
than another, as opposed to a straight question where no preference is manifested
(Stenstrm 1984.47).
Cooperative Principle
A principle that states that interlocutors in conversation try to cooperate with each
other. They will, in particular, attempt to be informative, truthful, relevant and clear.
Listeners will normally assume that a speaker is following these criteria. It is then
possible to deduce implications from what had been said concerning what has not been
said (conversational implicatures). (Crystal 1985.75-76)
Elicitative Force
Refers to the notion that a question usually expects a response. This expectation is
scalar. Also it refers to the fact that the answer that follows should be appropriate, i.e.
greeting should be followed by greeting etc. (Stenstrm 1984)
Evidentiary Rules
Rules that prescribe how evidence in trials can be presented and what evidence is
deemed admissible.
Illocutionary Force
Refers to the meaning of an utterance. This can be thought of as an attempt to
reconstruct what act, considered as a goal-directed communication, was it a goal of the
speaker to perform in producing the utterance. (Leech 1983.14-15)
Leading Questions
A legal term for a question which suggests a response (cf. conducive questions). It
provides maximum control over witness response during examination, namely its
length (usually can be answered by yes or no only). Also it offers the right answer.
(Goldberg 1982)
Loaded Questions
see conducive questions
Positive v. Negative Orientation
Refers to conduciveness (see conducive questions) to agreement or disagreement.
Questionness
Refers to a degree to which an utterance can be recognized as a question. E.g. whquestions are high on the scale of questionness, whereas declarative questions resemble
statements, therefore they are lower on this scale.
Utterance
Basic unit for pragmatic research. Refers to a stretch of speech in a form of act or
activity. The situational context is an integral part of the utterance without the
context, it is just a sentence. (Leech 1983)

1.2 Abstract
The M.A. major thesis deals with types of questioning used during the
cross-examination in the Shipman trial. From the point of view of pragmatics it studies the
persuasion devices inherent in each category. Among the features that affect the persuasive
illocutionary force are elicitative force and conduciveness. The differences in force with
regard to general context of conversation and the specific institutional context of the
courtroom are studied. Tag questions are discussed extensively as they are the most frequent
category and they demonstrate the greatest variety of meanings. Other forms of questions,
such as wh-questions, yes-no questions, declarative questions, questions with lexical tags and
alternative questions are discussed.

Keywords: cross-examination, leading questions, tag questions, types of questions,


prosecutor, conduciveness, elicitative force, courtroom discourse.

1.3 Abstrakt
Diplomov prce se zabv typy kladen otzek uvanch bhem kovho vslechu
v kauze dr. Shipman. Z pragmatickho hlediska zkoum pesvdovac prostedky, kter jsou
vlastn kad kategorii. Dleitmi pesvdovacmi aspekty jsou elicitativn sla a
konducivnost. Prce zkoum rozdl v interpretaci tchto prostedk pi uit v bn
konverzaci a specifick situaci soudnho len. Nejvznamnj kategori jsou otzky
pvsn (tag questions), kter jsou nejastj a vykazuj nejvt variantnost vznam. Prce
se dle zabv dalmi typy otzek jako jsou otzky typu wh-questions, otzky typu yes-no
questions, deklarativn otzky, otzky s lexiklnmi markery a alternativn otzky.

Klov slova: kov vslech, navozovac otzky, pvsn otzky, typy otzek, prokurtor,
konducivnost, elicitan sla, soudn diskurz.

1.4 Aims and Objectives


I will focus on how the different types of questions comply with the goals of the legal
situation. Their illocutionary forces will be interpreted and compared to the discourse tactic of
a cross-examining prosecutor. I will look into the persuasive devices that are used by the
prosecutor and directed at the members of the jury as the crucial factor whose interpretation of
the courtroom communication determines the outcome of the trial. I will also consider the
distribution of power and consequently the possibilities of the witness opposing discourse
strategies and their effectiveness.
I want to test the hypothesis of many scholars that the majority of questions asked
during cross-examination are very restrictive with regard to the answer that can follow. I want
to find out which category is the most frequent one and find pragmatic justification for its
exploitation. I also want to elucidate on how these questions function in comparison to
ordinary casual communication. A quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis based on
pragmatic interpretation will be employed.

1.5 Description of the Case


Dr. Harold Frederick Shipman, Britains most notorious serial killer was convicted at
Preston Crown Court on 31 January 2000 of the murder of 15 of his patients and of one count
of forging a will. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was a general practitioner who is
believed to have murdered between 215 and 260 patients by injecting them with a lethal
diamorphine injection. He never pleaded guilty and no motive for his deeds was ever
uncovered (Crimelibrary 2006).
The excerpt I am analysing is taken from a cross-examination of Dr. Shipman
performed by the prosecutor Richard Henriques. He cross-examines Dr. Shipman on the death
of 63-year-old Ivy Lomas, who one day went into his surgery and within ten minutes died of
morphine overdose. Dr. Shipman claimed that she died of a heart attack, for which he had
made appropriate entries in the medical records. The prosecutor exposes the witness to the
fact, that Ms. Lomas died in his surgery of morphine overdose and that Dr. Shipman must
have been there throughout. Next he despises the witness for actually defaming the already
dead Ivy Lomas in inferring that she needed a plaque. The prosecutor also discusses the
witness efforts at resuscitation (trying to prove that there were none) and his diagnose of
heart attack that was written down by him as the cause of death.

1.6 Material
The material for analysis is provided in the official trial transcript made available on
the internet (The Shipman Inquiry). The duty of making verbatim transcriptions of legal
proceedings is defined by law; the profession of court reporters has been established for this
reason. The transcripts are used in the appellate court proceedings, where only the counsels
are present and the case is discussed on the basis of the transcript only. Consequently the
accuracy of these transcripts becomes an important issue, however, one that is impossible to
reach.

1.6.1 Some Problems in Trial Transcript Analysis


Trial transcripts differ significantly from linguistic transcripts in that intonation,
pragmatic markers and extralinguistic features are not monitored. This of course significantly
deprives the spoken situation of some contextual clues. For example a nod or is recorded as
yes, but one can see that there is a difference as to the implicatures of the agreement.
There are, however, many more difficulties encountered in the process of recording
spoken language.
The necessary presumption behind this task [transcription] is that an accurate record of
an oral/acted event can be made by writing down exactly what was said. but in any
movement from the oral to the written, certain discrepancies between the original
event and its written representation are bound to occur, discrepancies which are
traceable not merely to inherent differences between spoken and written language, but
in the case of court reporting, to the cultural and professional climates in which
reporters do their jobs. (Walker 1990.203)

Walker (1990) in her paper maintains that court reporting is actually another act of
interpretation, which poses problems for the validity of inferences drawn from such data for
the sake of science research. The problems that occur are inherent already in the process of
reducing spoken language into writing. Another, more important aspect is a problem of bias,
which is an inherent, individual, and often unconscious force which is difficult to combat
and redress. [T]ranscription does not exist in a vacuum: the institution in which it occurs has
goals, needs, desires, and biases of its own (1990.239-240). Thus subconscious corrections
of ungrammaticality or smoothing of dialects can occur.
These are definitely valuable insights into the problematic of the fallacy of verbatim
recording and one needs to consider them in the perception of the methodology of this thesis.
However, videotape recordings (which are not without certain problems too) are not
accessible in the Czech academic setting; therefore I have to rely on this kind of data. Also the
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subject of my research does not concern the specific features of spoken discourse to a large
extent (such as hesitation markers, non-verbal phenomena, etc.), but discusses grammatical
structures that are not significantly liable to distortion: from these structures, pragmatic
inferences are made. Also, though the study of intonation would be helpful, it does not in any
way distort my findings; it would only make them more accurate within the discussed
categories (see p.28).

2. Spoken Legal Discourse


In this chapter I want to comment on the legal background that is vital for
understanding the discourse tactic of the participants in courtroom communication and its
application through linguistic devices.

2.1 Aspects of Legal Language


Let us now consider some general characteristics of legal language. Halliday (1979)
distinguished different varieties of language according to the user (i.e. who uses this particular
variety of language given by social background, sex, age, etc.), which he called dialects, and
varieties according to use (in what situation would a speaker use this or that variety of
language), which he called registers. Legalese, or the language of law, comes under the
heading of registers.
What makes this part of language a use-defined variety? There are several factors
which triggered the differentiation. From the historical point of view the problem is of
an uneven development. Once norms and proceedings are recorded, standardised and
institutionalised, a special legal language develops. (...) In the Anglo-Saxon common law
system, a discrete legal language has been apparent since post-Conquest England (Maley
1994.11). This discrete legal language however did not follow the evolution of the English
language but started to pursue its own processes of change and growth. These processes
occurred within the legal profession, which defined the forms and meanings of words
independently of how use and historical change affected these features i.e. independently of
the ordinary linguistic process. It is the courts, legislatures, and government agencies, which
decide the legal meanings of terms, not ordinary usage and historical change (Charrow
1982.180).
Another factor to look at is sociology. Legal professionals have legal language as the
only instrument of their science law can be accessed and applied through language only.
One of the main functions of this language is a performative one (cf. Austin 1962). Stating
something through legal language is the act of doing it (judgment of conviction, divorce, etc.).
It is perhaps this power of legal language, and the fact that the law can only be
communicated through it, that has led to the ritualistic quality of much legal discourse. The
ritualistic quality, in turn, gives greater credence to the power of the courts (Charrow
1982.182). As Maley (1994) suggests the powerful and the elite need to reserve some kind of
special language for themselves in order to ensure their social differentiation and to reinforce
and perpetuate power by depriving the less powerful classes of access to its mysteries
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(Maley 1994.12). Thus a language within a language evolves, one that is almost impossible to
be understood by laymen.

As in some religions, where it is not necessary (or perhaps even desirable) to


understand the meaning of the rituals in order to be impressed by the power of the
deity, it is not necessary for the lay person to understand the law in order to be
impressed by the power of the law. As with religion, the law has trained intermediaries
lawyers who will interpret, even intercede for us. (Charrow 1982.182)

Contemporary legal discourse is still viewed by ordinary people as elitist, trying to


separate them from the possibility of understanding legal texts. This is also reflected in the
emergence of the Plain English Movement in the twentieth century, calling for clear,
understandable legal communication and trying to revise this type of discourse1.
The last factor I want to consider is the one that most lawyers would align with.
Crystal and Davy (1969) look at the language of legal documents which is in some way
connected with the imposition of obligations and the conferring of rights. And from time to
time, of course, someone or other is sure to become morbidly curious about his obligations,
and even scrutinise them closely to see if they may possibly be wriggled out of (Crystal
1969.193). This of course means that for law to be effective and enforceable it needs to be
written down in an unambiguous way, leaving no opportunities for misinterpretation. Thus
intelligibility to masses is surpassed by the much more important aim of achieving
unambiguous communication.

Legal writers, pushed into oddity by their attempts to be unambiguous, are pulled as it
were in the same direction by the knowledge that since their productions are for the
benefit of someone as familiar with the jargon as themselves, they have no need to
bother too much about the simpler needs of a general public. (Crystal 1969.194)

2.2 Classification of Discourse Situations in the Language of the Law


Crystal and Davy (1969) are concerned with legalese as manifested in writing. Let me
therefore consider the more general examination of legal discourse within which I would like
to distinguish another subdiscourses as devised by Maley (1994) these are useful for my
analysis as they are defined against particular situations, thus favouring my pragmatic
approach. In his words, [t]here is not one legal discourse but a set of related discourses. Each
has a characteristic flavour but each differs according to the situation in which it is used
1

For more on this go to http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-926/english.htm.

(Maley 1994.13). That is, the language of legal documents as examined by Crystal and Davy
has some common features with the courtroom discourse I want to explore in this thesis.
Nevertheless, one could argue that there are more differences than there are similarities. One
of the key features here is definitely the fact that the language of the courtroom is largely
spoken and interactive, exploiting some ritualised parts of legal discourse but on the whole
largely resembling everyday usage the structures that it exploits are taken from the
common language, but as will be shown they are used in different frequencies and for
different purposes. On the other hand, the language of legal documents significantly differs
from common language in both lexis and grammar.
Maley (drawing on Halliday) approaches legal language from semiotic and functional
points of view to describe its constituent discourses. The signs of a semiotic system in their
characteristic configurations communicate meanings.

Linguistically, the configuration of meanings constitute a discourse type (a register or


genre) which is realised in texts by lexicogrammar, textual organisation and a
structural shape (...) that is identified with the genre. There is then a relationship
between the discourse type and the social situation which needs explication. In the
Hallidayan model this relationship is derived from the values or components of the
social situation: its field, tenor and mode. (...) What is claimed is that the nature and
purpose of the ongoing activity (field), the nature and speech roles of the participants
(tenor) and the type of channel for communication (mode) are related to meanings
typical of discourse type. (Maley 1994.14-15)

Table 2.1 below is a summary of Maleys findings, in which he models the different
discourse types on the basis of different situation types that may arise sequentially in the legal
process. The groups that are formed are labelled as
1) sources of law
2) pre-trial processes
3) trial processes
4) recording and law-making.
The sequence is exemplified on a social conflict between two parties that must first be
recognised as coming under the heading of rule of law (sources of law may be interpreted that
doing of one participant was unlawful). If the parties decide to sue each other, they step in the
realm of pre-trial processes - consulting lawyers, lawyers consulting each other, police
investigation, etc. In the next step the parties appear in court and fight their cases. This step is
the one that my thesis subsumes and investigates from the point of view of persuasion
devices. Each trial has to end with some decision, which in turn can influence the first step,

i.e. the sources of law (under common law the rulings of judges may become precedents,
i.e. explanations or reformulations of the sources of law). (Maley 1994.15)

Table 2.1: Legal Discourse Situations

2.3 Courtroom Discourse


I will now look more closely at the third step, i.e. the discourse situation - trial
processes, legal discourse - courtroom discourse.
I would like to stress beforehand that under trial we should imagine a criminal trial as
that is the one where the jury is always present. The data I have analysed are taken from
a criminal trial and as will be shown the jury is an instrumental factor in determining
the outcome of a trial a factor to which all the analysed language is actually directed.

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2.3.1 The Legal Situation and Its Consequences for Linguistic Research
As the courtroom situation is an institutional one, the notion of power comes to play
a significant part.

2.3.1.1 Power in the Courtroom


The first phenomenon to be noticed about the courtroom is the physical reproduction
of hierarchical power. Power relations within courtroom are defined via laws. These relations
are actually reflected in the physical layout of the courtroom, with the judge occupying the
dominant position, in the way some of the participants dress, in barristers choice of address
and register, questioning, etc. (Luchjenbroers 1997.480). The witness is usually considered to
be at the other end of the continuum, i.e. to be the one with the least power or as some
scholars would claim with no power at all (Maley 1994.32-34). Although I do not want to
focus entirely on power relations as represented in the courtroom, it is important to
communicate the following: Power is exercised primarily by those who have the most right
to speak, and to choose, control and change topics (Maley 1994.34). The one upon whom the
greatest power is bestowed by law is the judge. However, in the adversarial system of
common-law trial proceedings he or she is conventionally someone who just oversees to the
fluent and lawful progress of a trial. Though his/her decisions overrule any others, they are
not instrumental in influencing the outcome of a trial the decision is up to the jury; the judge
only checks if the information communicated (including evidence) towards the jury is
delivered in accordance with the Federal Rules of Evidence2.
The next participants with the right to speak and a right to control topics (and thus
with the greatest power) are the counsels, representing the two opposing parties. The
consideration of these is fundamental to legal realism.

2.3.1.2 Legal Realism


The trial has been described by many scholars in rather emotive words it is a battle,
a story-telling (Maley 1994.33-34), a theatre (Goldberg 1982.4), a highly constrained play
(Luchjenbroers 1997.477), war of words (Danet 1980.190), etc. To see why these metaphors
are used let us first look at the difference between common-law adversarial system and the
European inquisitorial system as quoted by Maley (1994) from Devlin (1979).

Cf. http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rules.htm. These are applied in the United States. In other countries,
similar rules are devised.

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The essential difference between the two systems there are many incidental ones is
apparent from their names: the one is a trial of strength and the other is an inquiry. The
question of the first is: are the shoulders of the party on whom is laid the burden of
proof, the plaintiff or the prosecution as the case may be, strong enough to carry it and
discharge it? In the second the question is: what is the truth of the matter. In the first
the judge and jury are arbiters: they do not pose questions and seek answers; they
weigh such material as is put before them, but they have no responsibility for seeing
that it is complete. In the second the judge is in charge of the inquiry from the start; he
will of course permit the parties to make out their cases and may rely on them to do
so, but it is for him to say what he wants to know. (Maley 1994.33)

All the labels are based on the simple fact that there are two opposing parties which
present their version of the facts, of what, when and how happened, to the jury (which
comprises laymen) who then produce a verdict based on which version was the most
trustworthy, i.e. which was presented in the most persuasive manner. The way these facts are
presented is through the question-answer sequence, that is more generally through language.
I have shown earlier that the language of legal documents strives for unambiguity and
clarity of meaning. How then can two competing versions of facts emerge in legal language?
The decisive factor is that we are now talking about a spoken discourse within the courtroom
and, moreover, one that is directed towards a lay-, i.e. non-professional jury. In this context
one cannot separate what happened from the language that is used to describe or explain
what happened. When the meaning of an act is ambiguous, the words we choose to talk about
it become critical (Danet 1980.189).
What is there then to the battle, war, theatre? It is the battle of words, of grammatical
structures, of pragmatic phenomena, all directed towards one ultimate goal and that is the
jurys acceptance of your version of the facts. In Goldbergs (1982) words a trial is the
presentation of an idea (why your client should win), to an audience (the jury), through the
medium of performers (1982.4). The important observation here is the fact that the actual
presentation is much more important than the truth. Only a lawyer believing that real
events have more to do with a jury verdict than the theater of the trial will cross examine
a lying witness with the question: Tell the jury how you can explain that, Mr. Benton?
(Goldberg 1982.5-6). The keyword thus becomes persuasion, especially considering the fact
that your play stands against the play of your opponent how can you talk the jury into the
fact that yours is the true one?

Legal realism rejects the view dominant in analytical or positivist jurisprudence, that
logic and rules are the essence of the law (...). Facts are seen not as objectively
determinable entities, but as constructions, created by persons engaged in interaction
and negotiation. In Courts on Trial, Frank contrasted the truth theory of courts with

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what he called the fight theory. (...) [T]he adversary system encourages the use of
trial tactics to prevent the judge or jury from correctly evaluating the trustworthiness
of witnesses and to shut out the evidence damaging to a case: The lawyer aims at
victory ... not at aiding the court to discover the facts. If facts are constructions
produced by participants in the legal process, and trials are wars of words, the need
to understand better the role of words as the tools for the construction of facts and
interpretation of action becomes clear. (Danet 1980.190)

To sum up, I have shown that the courtroom situation is essentially oral and oral
language becomes the medium through which reality is constructed and negotiated.
Although the question-answer sequence that is fundamental to this situation proceeds between
two interactants (counsel-witness), it is directed primarily to the jury as the receiver and the
decoder of the message. The interest for the linguist thus lies in focussing the attention on the
discoursal strategies of all participants, but particularly those of counsel and witness; the ways
in which both counsel and witness exploit the discoursal resources available, given the
discoursal constraints laid upon them, and the inequalities of power that these represent
(Maley 1994.35).

2.3.1.3 Examination of Witnesses


The trial proceedings consist of several stages that form the compulsory structure of
each trial. In each of these the lawyer has substantial space for the persuasion of the jury. The
stages are: voir dire examination (i.e. examination of the members of the jury, of their
acceptability),

opening

statements,

direct

examination,

cross-examination,

possible

re-examination and closing arguments. In my thesis I have analysed data taken from
a cross-examination transcript, therefore this particular stage will be of major consideration.
I will, however, devote some space to comment on some general features of examination as
such and on direct examination as opposed to cross-examination. Although the opening and
closing speeches offer abounding examples of persuasive methods employed by lawyers, they
are simply beyond the spatial limits of my thesis.
Courtroom discourse is referred to by Maley (1994) as spoken and interactive.
Interactivity is definitely more topical in the question-answer sequence of the examinations,
as the opening and closing speeches are delivered to the jury as to the silent participant, i.e.
one that is not contributing and is not allowed to contribute to the communication by any
verbal means. The examination stages are usually perceived to be the core of the trial
process, an arena of opposition and drama (Maley 1994.36). In their description I will draw
on the lawyers manuals as they clearly define the goals of each stage and to some extent also

13

show how to achieve them. The handling of language is nevertheless treated only marginally
and it seems that it is effected by lawyers rather intuitively, or it springs from experience. In
the practical part of my thesis some of the features of persuasion that are actively exploited in
the question-answer sequence by an experienced prosecutor will be dealt with.
In the examination of witnesses stages most of the information vital for determining
the trial outcome will be presented. The information that is determining is the information that
the jury accepts. It is the role of the lawyer, one that wholly relies on his/her skill, to ensure
that the vital information gets through he/she has to first make sure that the jurors are aware
of the piece of information that is presented. Second, it has to be presented in a persuasive
manner so as to ensure that the jurors believe it. Examination in its two forms is directed first
at building the pile of evidence supporting the lawyers position which the jury will accept
usually a direct examination (or re-examination). Secondly, it is aimed at tearing down the
evidence presented by his/her opponent which the jury are willing to accept usually
a cross-examination. (Goldberg 1982.210-211)

2.3.1.4 Direct Examination


In the direct examination the witnesses are supposed to be given the chance to tell their
own stories, to build acceptability and thus to persuade the jury of their version of facts. This
is supported by the rule that leading questions (see p.22) may not be asked during direct
examination and if they are, they are subject to objection, which, if sustained, prevents the
witness from answering that question.

The real reason for the rule that you should not lead on direct, but should lead on cross
is not an evidence rule, it is a rule of persuasion. The rule of persuasion is based upon
the understanding that how a witness says things is at least as important as what the
witness says when you are trying to build up the pile of evidence acceptable to the
jurors, and that what the witness acknowledges, not how it is acknowledged is
more important when you are tearing down the pile your opponent has built.
(Goldberg 1982.213)

Jurisprudence maintains that the jury will not accept information presented by the
lawyer but will take into account information supplied by the witness. However, studies by
Luchjenbroers (1997) or Hobbs (2002) have shown that witnesses are the lawyers puppets
even during the direct examination the questions asked are not leading, nevertheless they
exercise high control and do not in fact allow the witness to relate his/her story. This is true
even of friendly witnesses, who being laymen, usually for the first time before the court, are

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dangerous for their barristers in the way that by talking too much they could supply
information that could be harmful to their case.
However, it is clear that as leading questions are allowed to be used at
cross-examination, they will be used abundantly and it will be proved in my analysis.

2.3.1.5 Cross-Examination
Let us now look more closely on the processes of cross-examination and how it should
be conducted. Cross-examination follows direct examination and the structure points at the
objectives of this stage: in cross-examining a witness the prosecutor scrutinizes the weak
points of his/her testimony (presented during direct examination) and tries to expose its
inaccuracies or improbabilities to persuade the jury not to take the witness testimony into
account. A cross-examination is very rarely a scene of a destructing logic turning the lying
witness completely to admit that he/she has made it all up as depicted in films and TV series.
It is the ultimate confrontational theater in which the prosecutor tries to show
a demonstration of bias, the admission of omissions, and the failure of detail on the part of
the witness testimony (Goldberg 1982.271-272). It is a play in which the prosecutor tries to
make the witness look untrustworthy and thus destroy his/her highly persuasive account of
events.
The objectives of a cross-examination as defined by Morrill (1973) will be one of the
following:
a) to establish that the witness is lying on one or more material points
b) to show that the witness is prejudiced
c) to show that his/her testimony is improbable
d) to force the witness to admit certain facts
e) to supplement testimony that the witness has already given
f) to weaken the testimony of the witness by showing it as questionable because of
his/her inability to observe, to hear a conversation, or to see because of poor
lighting conditions, or by showing other facts to reduce the value of his/her
opinion
g) to show incompetence of a witness (on expert matters)
h) to impeach a witness by showing that he/she has given a contrary statement at
another time
i) to cast doubt on the witness credibility (e.g. an ex-convict)

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j) to obtain necessary evidence to establish the case through examination of an


adverse witness during the case in chief. (Morrill 1973.55)
The fundamental device to achieve one of these objectives is lawyer control over what
is being spoken about. Absolute lawyer control is enabled by the very question-answer
sequence. The one who asks is in control as the maxims of the Cooperative Principle (namely
that of relevance) are enforced by the evidentiary rules. In contrast to other discourse
situations where the giver of information generally holds power, in this setting a witness does
not (Luchjenbroers 1997.480). It will be argued, however, that the true giver of information
is the lawyer him/herself.

If the safest way to insure against losing a cross examination is to keep the witness
from saying anything at all, the next safest technique is to ask questions that allow the
witness to answer in one word. Not only is it the safest way to cross examine, it is also
the most effective. The less the witness talks, the more the lawyer controls. (Goldberg
1982.275)
The very reason that cross-examination is such an effective tool in the hands of a
lawyer is that he can choose the area of inquiry the ground rules are all in his favor.
If a series of questions can each be answered by a simple Yes or No, a witness can
be required to make such answers. (Morrill 1973.61)

In other words, to ensure that your version of facts is produced and presented for the
sake of persuasion of the jury, let the witness answer only yes or no to each question. I
would add and draw the jurys attention to the desired answer; this will be dealt with under
the heading of conduciveness (see p.26). As Morrill (1973) maintains one should never ask
why? at cross-examination. From the pre-trial proceedings the lawyers have all the relevant
information about their case. Thus the next rule to cross-examining questions is that
a question to which the lawyer does not know the answer should never be asked (Morrill
1973.59).
There are many more hard and fast rules about the lawyers conduct in the battle of
persuasion called the cross-examination. Let me just list some of them as they are not central
to understanding of the thesis the examiner must be fair to witness as the witness is someone
the lay-jury will identify with and thus any dishonesty on the part of the lawyer will reflect on
the acceptance of his/her case; similarly do not let the trapped witness be trapped too long so
as not to produce feelings of compassion in the jury; examine step by step and highlight
important information; etc. (Morrill 1973.57-60).
Let me now go back to the types of questions that should be employed while
cross-examining. The question that gets the yes or no response is a declaration, but in a

16

form that requires the witness to agree or disagree. (...) Although the lawyer is not privileged
to speak unless he is asking a question of the witness, the question is in form only (Goldberg
1982.276). Producing only polar answers seems to be rather unfair to the witness as nothing is
black and white. However, this is the purpose of the cross-examination and any explanations
can be provided on re-direct examination. Any other answer would allow the witness to tell
his/her story again and in a persuasive fashion; thus it would be unfair to the counsel as
his/her stage of persuasion would be infiltrated by the opponents witness relating to the jury
and maybe gaining their acceptance.
Goldberg (1982) states some more rules as to the nature of the declarations used in
the cross-examination. The declarations should be short and contain only one idea for them
not to be subject to misinterpretation. This is not directed primarily to the jury but to
preventing any evasive responses on the part of the witness: a long question is likely to be
requested for repetition and if the request is a fair one, you have lost a little not in
substance, but in theater (Goldberg 1982.281). Every topic has to be broken down to its
component parts, each of which contains just one idea. In the question-answer sequence this
may seem rather tedious, it is nonetheless the only way how to prevent misinterpretation and
more than one word answers.

2.4 The Discourse Tactic A Summary


The role of the lawyer in the adversarial system is to make sure that the vital
information that supports his/her case is presented and gets through to the members of the jury
and the judge. Their responsibility is in interpreting the information, not in evaluating its
(in)completeness.
Therefore, the discourse tactic of the prosecutor, i.e. cross-examining lawyer, is clearly
determined by the views of legal realism. In the courtroom, competing versions of facts are
presented by the opposing parties. The tools for the construction of these facts are words, i.e.
language. The prosecutor needs to exploit all possible means of persuasion in order to
persuade the jury of his/her version of the facts - the skilful handling of language is crucial to
achieve this end.
The successful presentation of facts is conditioned by tight interrogation control. This
is ensured by the power relations within the courtroom after the judge, the lawyer is the one
with the most right to speak. Therefore he/she chooses the topics that are discussed. During
the cross-examination, these topics relate to the preceding direct examination and involve

17

a scrutiny of its weak points: the prosecutor strives to make the witness look untrustworthy so
that the jury does not take his/her testimony into account.
For the successful persuasion of the jury about the untrustworthiness of the witness,
leading questions are exploited. The prosecutor thus significantly controls the elaboration of
the witness answers (and consequently his/her chances for building credibility) and at the
same time uses these questions to construct his/her version of facts. The prosecutor will hence
use a lot of declarations to build the pile of evidence that supports his/her case and will
usually allow the witness to answer in one word only (or rather will be able to request the one
word answer).

18

3. Questions in Courtroom Discourse


Before I embark on the classification of questions that will be analysed in my material,
I want to focus on some problems connected with the definition of questions.

3.1 The Difficulties of Question Definition


To be able to discuss the effects of questioning on the participants in courtroom
discourse, we have to first look at the difficulties we encounter when trying to define
questions.
Quirk et al. (1972) classify questions formally as
sentences marked by one or more of these three criteria:
a) the placing of the operator in front of the subject:
Will John speak to the boss today?
b) the initial positioning of an interrogative or wh-element:
Who will you speak to?
c) rising question intonation:
You will speak to the BSS? (Quirk et al. 1972.386)

It is clear that this definition is not exhaustive as for example a sentence: You like it,
dont you? is a question (though as we will see on the lower level of the scale of
questionness), which can be uttered with falling intonation (and very frequently is).3
Though Bolinger (1957) claims that a question cannot be defined by the utilization of
just one element, he adds that sometimes this ability is ascribed to question intonation.
However, elaborating on this subject he finds four criteria, any of which may serve to define
a given question and no question will lack all of them. They are:
1) interrogative distribution
2) interrogative syntax
3) interrogative intonation
4) interrogative gesture (Bolinger 1957.2-3).
The first criterion employs the fact that questions usually elicit answers and thus an
answer usually indicates that a question has preceded (Bolinger 1957.3). Those linguists that
take this criterion as the one element capable of exhaustive definition, however, usually go
round in circles looking for the definition of an answer. Moreover, not every question elicits
an answer, viz. rhetorical questions and similar.

It is surprising how much importance linguists devote to question intonation. The study by Stenstrm (1984)
shows that a large number (28%) of questions in face to face conversation are those that ask for confirmation
(this will be elaborated on later) and out of these as many as 72% have a falling tone (Stenstrm 1984.177-178).

19

Under the label of interrogative syntax Bolinger (1957) includes inversions, wh-words
plus inversions, interrogative tags etc. As regards syntax, there is the problem of a
considerable degree of syntactic and functional overlap; negative interrogatives and
imperatives can be realized by identical surface form, such as in Dont you drink any brandy,
which can either function as a command or as a Q (syntactic overlap), (...) whereas Will you
pass me the book bears a close functional similarity to imperatives (functional overlap)
(Stenstrm 1984.31-32).
Interrogative gestures are raised eyebrows, eyes focused on the interlocutor, hand
gestures etc.
Bolinger (1957) concludes that if we want to have some ultimate foundation for the
definition of question, it would have to be an attitude, some kind of behaviour. A question
appears to be a behavior pattern, and is as real but as hard to pin down as other behavior
patterns: aggressiveness, deference, anxiety, or embarrassment (1957.5). Considering all the
difficulties accompanying the attempts at formal definition of questions, many linguists (e.g.
Anthony, Lyons, Brazil, Coulthard) quoted in Stenstrm (1984) emphasize the irrelevance of
linguistic form in favour of the importance of the linguistic function in discourse, which, of
course, influences the form (Stenstrm 1984.32).
Although it is difficult to define questions from the linguistic point of view, the very
nature of courtroom discourse enables us to overcome this difficulty. The court dialogue is
essentially a linguists passion as it is wholly organized in institutionally enforced adjacency
pairs, one part of which is labelled a question and the other an answer or response. As
Stenstrm (1984) maintains, the characteristics which set examination apart from
conversation are:
1) the turn order is fixed
2) the type of the turn is fixed.

[T]alk is organized into series of Q/R [question/response] pairs and the minimal
demand on each speakers turn is that it should be designed either as Q or as R. The
distribution of speaker turns is predetermined insofar as the right to ask Qs is restricted
to the party who conducts the examination, whereas the examined partys utterance
always occurs post-question and is heard as an answer. Speaker-change is
consequently unidirectional and occurs in a fixed ABAB order, i.e. is restricted to two
parties. The pre-allocation of turns is built into the system and not locally managed.
In conversation, by contrast, features of turn order, turn size and what is done in a turn
are locally managed, i.e. occur in no pre-determined order. (Stenstrm 1984.257)

20

3.2 Classification of Questions


Bearing all this in mind it is nevertheless useful to find some categorization for the
questions to be discussed in a logical and structured way. As courtroom discourse is a field of
study approached by both linguists and lawyers, let me propose two types of classifications.
One based on the lawyers research, the other, more familiar, based on the linguistic
approach.

3.2.1 Questions from Legal Perspective


From a legal point of view, there are only four types of questions that can be asked
during an examination:
a) questions that call for a narrative response
b) questions that define the subject of response
c) questions that call for a specific response
d) questions that suggest the response.

The questions are listed in an ascending order of interrogation control, and


simultaneously, in a descending order of witness credibility (Goldberg 1982.212).

Table 3.1: Questions From a Legal Point of View


Questions from a legal point of view
interrogation control witness credibility
questions that call for a narrative response
questions that define the subject of response
questions that call for a specific response
questions that suggest the response

The first type lets the witness take floor and allows him/her a relatively unhindered
relation of facts. It thus permits the jury to evaluate the speaker and it permits the speaker to
fully employ his/her skills of persuasion.
Example 1:
Q. Would you now explain why on that Lloyd George card you have recorded the time of
death as 14.45?

21

The second category includes questions that define the subject of response and thus
give more control over the subject of the witness speech, at the same time they are open
enough to give the witness opportunity to relate to the jury and build credibility.
Example 2:
Q. What is there in 1991, page 847, that permits you to write on this Lloyd George summary
card "Ischaemic heart disease?"
More control is exercised in the specific response questions. The length of the answer
is regulated in order to regulate the display of the witness charisma (or lack of charisma for
that matter).
Example 3:
Q. What time did you admit the next patient to your room?
The last type, referred to in legal terminology as a leading question is a very
significant type, the occurrence of which is even regulated by rules concerning examination.
A question which suggests a response provides maximum control over witness response,
namely its length (usually can be answered by yes or no only), and as the heading suggests it
very importantly offers the right answer. The witness chances of a persuasive appeal to the
jury vanish as soon as this question is uttered.
Example 4:
Q. You had abandoned her as dead at 16.10, hadn't you?

3.2.2 Linguistic Approach


Let us now look more closely at how the linguists usually categorize questions. While
analysing a text, those utterances that are recognized by their function as questions can be
roughly classified into three major categories as to what response they may elicit.
In Quirk et al. (1972) these are:
1) yes-no questions
2) wh-questions (Bolingers how-why questions)
3) alternative questions.
Bolinger (1957) defines also complementary questions, which ask for continuation or
completion, such as And John?, But later?. This is, however, a minor category; moreover, one
that could be treated as an elliptical form of wh-question, where the completion is supplied by
the context (And John did what?, But what happened later?).
Yes-no questions are those that expect an affirmative or negative answer, be it
a gesture (nod, shake), rewording of the question, or simple yes or no with all their possible
22

alternatives (e.g. ok, alright, indeed, no way, etc.). Yes-no questions include tag questions and
declarative questions, both of which have a positive or negative orientation, or in other words
are conducive (Quirk et al. 1972.387-392). This will be dealt with in greater detail later on
(see p.26).
Bolinger (1957) does not subdivide yes-no questions in this way; instead he divides
them according to whether:
1) they contain inversions (Do you like it?, the auxiliary precedes subject) - these are
called auxiliary questions
2) they contain increments, i.e. question markers that make what looks like
a statement into a question
3) they manipulate towards affirmative or negative response these are called
conducive questions.
Wh-questions are formed with the aid of one of the following interrogative words who,
what, which, when, where, how, why. They call forth an elaboration of a questioned point.
Alternative questions are of lesser importance; they expect an answer, which is one of
the alternatives (usually two but can be more) presented in the question. Any positive yes-no
question can be converted into an alternative question by adding or not? or a matching
negative clause:
yes-no: Are you coming?
alternative: Are you coming or not?
Are you coming or arent you (coming)? (Quirk et al. 1972.399).

Bolinger (1957) adds to the low importance of this category by maintaining that
alternative questions could be subsumed under the heading of yes-no questions. He considers
or to be a coordinating conjunction of two yes-no questions. Will you have oranges? No.
Grapefruit? No. Tangerines then. (Bolinger 1957.114).
Quirk et al. (1972) also mention some minor types of questions, such as rhetorical
questions and exclamatory questions. I would claim that their role is rather connected with
their function in discourse, since on the level of syntax they resemble one of the above stated
categories and only through context can one draw further conclusions.
In my analysis I will employ the basic categorization as devised by Quirk et al.
(1972). Within the category of yes-no questions I will recognize the subcategories of tag
questions, questions with lexical tags (drawing on Bolingers question markers), declarative
questions and yes-no questions proper.

23

3.3 Question Functions


A question in discourse can serve a variety of functions, e.g. encouraging the
interlocutor to continue the action, initiating exchange, signalling cooperation, requesting
something, etc. For the purposes of my thesis, I will be dealing with two functions that are
decisive in terms of the degree of persuasion of the addressee, i.e. elicitative force and
conduciveness.

3.3.1 Elicitative Force


As discussed by Stenstrm (1984), different types of questions have different
elicitative forces, which is connected with the perception of questions as utterances that are
asked for the sake of receiving an answer. However, there is a scale to the urgency to
respond, which then influences our perception of whether the question was actually responded
to or not. That is if no R [response] follows a request for information, such as Whats the
time?, the absence will be noticed, but if no R follows a request for acknowledgement, e.g.
This I think is a lovely picture, isnt it?, it would hardly be noticed at all (Stenstrm
1984.46). It is suggested that the degree of elicitative force is bound to the form of the
question. It will be shown in the analysis that this is true, in that a repeated occurrence of
certain forms in human communication creates an expectation as to whether an answer is
needed or not.
The term elicitation suggests not only that an answer should follow, but it also points
at a crucial fact that the question should be responded to in a way that is appropriate, i.e.
coherently with what the addressee is asked about. This notion is incorporated in the
characteristics of adjacency pairs that were introduced by Schegloff and Sacks (1973).
Referring to them, Raymond (2003) presents five features of adjacency pairs in their basic,
unexpanded form:
1) They are composed of two turns that are
2) produced by different speakers and
3) are adjacently placed;
4) these turns are differentiated into First Pair Parts (FPP) and Second Pair Parts
(SPP) and
5) FPPs and SPPs are type-related (e.g. question-answer, greeting-greeting, etc.)
(Raymond 2003.942)
What a speaker says in pair part one preconditions what should follow in the next slot
and if this slot is not filled appropriately the question is not answered. Thus a question not
24

only predicts the occurrence of an answer (by means of its elicitative force) but also lays
constraints on the appropriateness or relatedness of this answer (cf. Grices Maxim of
Relation (Leech 1984)). Hence, it follows that some continuations become more socially
acceptable than others; it is definitely much more acceptable to give an answer rather than to
refuse to give it.
Franck (...) suggests that there exists a hierarchy of preference for continuation
options, consisting of three levels: 1) acceptance or positive confirmation, 2) refusal or
doubt, and 3) indeterminate, postponing reactions like check-ups. (...)
Sinclair and Coulthard suggest the following options for utterances ending in an open
elicitation: 1) a minimal, totally fitting response, 2) something which satisfies the
notional presuppositions of the elicitation but is structurally independent, 3) something
which implies an adequate answer but principally sets up further presuppositions, and
4) something which challenges the terms of the question. (Stenstrm 1984.35)
Typically, preferred responses are produced immediately and without qualification.
(...) Dispreferred responses may be 1) delayed by silence or other conduct, 2) prefaced
by appreciations or other items, 3) mitigated or qualified, and 4) explained or
accounted for. (Raymond 2003.943)

It will be seen that lawyers formulate their examination questions in such a way that
they elicit a minimal response moreover, an acceptance or negation (cf. conduciveness
below). Thus they exercise great amount of control over the response possibilities of the
witness, who, if dissatisfied with the terms of the question (e.g. considering them harmful for
him/her), chooses a different kind of response from the one expected or socially accepted and
thus loses some of his/her credibility (be it on the subconscious or conscious level). As has
been discussed above, he/she can moreover be forced to provide just the minimal response
that is called forth by the question and the jury may be instructed not to take the part that
does not satisfy the notional presuppositions of the question into consideration.
Let me conclude this part by listing three types of questions commented on by
Stenstrm (1984) according to their elicitative force. She distinguishes:
a) requests for information
b) requests for confirmation
c) requests for acknowledgement.
The first two are taken over and modified from Labov and Fanshel (1977), the last one
is devised by herself. The rule for requests for information states:
If A addresses to B an interrogative focussing on I, and B does not believe that A
believes that
a) A has I
b) B does not have I
then A is heard as making a valid request for information.

25

[The] rule for request for confirmation reads:


If A makes a statement about B-events then it is heard as a request for confirmation.
I [Stenstrm] suggest the following rule for request for acknowledgment on the same
lines:
If A expresses his personal opinion or makes an assertion about an A-event either of
these utterances may be heard as a request for B to acknowledge. (Stenstrm 1984.46)

For my thesis requests for confirmation acquire a central role. The boundary between
requests for confirmations and requests for acknowledgement is rather vague, usually
disambiguated by intonation only or by occurrence of accentuating pragmatic markers. This is
beyond the scope of my thesis, I will therefore make use of requests for confirmation, adding
some comments if the function tends towards acknowledgement.

3.3.2 Conduciveness
As a characteristic aspect of yes-no questions (with the exception of declarative ones),
Quirk et al. (1972) recognise the use of non-assertive forms any, ever, etc. As opposed to
statements, questions have neutral polarity, meaning that they are open to positive or negative
answers. Hence questions like negatives belong to the class of non-assertions (Quirk et al.
1972.389). Nevertheless, various linguistic devices enable us to formulate these questions in
such a way that they are biased towards a positive or negative answer. This phenomenon is
described by Quirk et al. (1972) as positive versus negative orientation. Leech (1983) uses the
term loaded questions, Pope (1976) the term biased. Bolinger (1957) and Stenstrm (1984)
use the one that I am going to employ, i.e. conduciveness.
A conducive or leading (NB. the term leading, cf. with the legal terminology) question
is one that shows that a given answer is expected or desired (Bolinger 1957.96), one where
A is taken to show preference for one R [response] rather than another, as opposed to a
straight question where no preference is manifested (Stenstrm 1984.47). Paraphrasing
Hudson (1975) Stenstrm (1984) presents one important characteristic of conduciveness, i.e.
that the conducive aspect is read into [the question] by B, who hears a sentence of a certain
form and interprets what he hears on the basis of what he knows about A (1984.48).
It is important to realize that in the case of cross-examination the speaker has more
hearers - the witness and the members of the jury (also the judge). If a conducive question is
interpreted by the jury as calling for a specific answer, viz. agreement or disagreement, and
the answer provided by the witness does not conform to this expectation, a tension is created
and the credibility of either the speaker or the addressee is thus questioned. Along the same

26

lines, as the form of a question can employ a variety of conducive devices and can have a high
degree of elicitative force, as opposed to the addressees minimal response options, it
becomes clear against which side the scales of justice are likely to be tipped. This will be
shown later in the analysis of questions used in the Shipman trial.

3.3.2.1 Conducive Devices


Let us now look more closely at the characteristics of conducive devices. There is an
endless variety of means indicating our preference for a particular answer. I will only select
some instances mentioned by Quirk et al. (1972), Bolinger (1957) and Stenstrm (1984) for
the sake of illustration and I will elaborate on them in greater detail when dealing with
specific types of questions.
Bolinger distinguishes between conducive intonation, conducive gestures and
conducive negation in yes-no questions. I will exclude intonation and gestures here, as the
character of my data does not allow me to study these features. Conducive negation relates to
the expectation of a given answer on the basis of assumed absence of any reason for
disagreement on the part of the hearer (often on the basis of known prior agreement)
(Bolinger 1957.99). E.g. Isnt it a nice day? As Quirk et al. (1972) mention there can be an
element of surprise or disbelief, which implies a positive meaning. These questions may often
express disappointment or annoyance, as the assumption of the speaker is not being fulfilled
and thus creates new assumption. Cant you drive straight? (Id have thought youd be able
to, but apparently you cant) (Quirk et al. 1972.389).
Although Bolinger (1957) does not interpret declarative questions as conducive, in his
discussion of tentative assertions it is apparent that he understands them as such. These are
non-questions (statements) that are modified into a question by a tentation; examples are no
doubt, I suppose, I assume, I think. In tentative assertions the speaker expresses his/her
assumption, which is then put forth for confirmation by means of the lexical tag (i.e.
tentation). This is a very important piece of observation that will be employed later in my
study of various types of tag questions and declarative questions. (Bolinger 1957.73-78)
Bolinger (1957.157-164) also touches upon the matter of conducive wh-questions.
Yes-no questions are normally answerable in only one of two ways, which makes it easy to
suggest a yes-no answer in advance: You like it, dont you? is unambiguously conducive.
Answers to hwQs [how-why questions, i.e. wh-questions] are drawn from a theoretically
unlimited semantic field. ... It is therefore difficult to make a hwQ conduce to a specific
answer (1957.157). He recognizes two types of wh-questions that through the context in
27

which they are uttered cancel all other possible answers rhetorical questions and
suggestions-for-action. The former are more like forceful statements, What would I give to
see them again!, Who would applaud to such a mediocre performance?, which conduce but
do not compel an answer. The latter are usually those started by the expression why (...) not
Why not try a little harder?. The answer is self-evident, however, some expression of
affirmation is usually present. To the group of conducing wh-questions Bolinger also adds
some that are marked lexically. The lexis usually indicates undesirability Why bother?, Why
worry about such a trifle?, Where would I drive that old wreck?.
As one of the conducive devices Quirk et al. (1972) characterise an insertion of
assertive forms into questions. These expressions indicate that the speaker expresses belief in
his assumption and merely asks for confirmation. They are often used in offers. Would you
like some cake? Did someone call last night? Has the boat left already?. Two forms of
questions are discussed as inherently expecting positive or negative answers tag questions
and declarative questions. They will be discussed in detail (see pp.40-47). Let me now just
state that the former are conducive as they consist of a statement, where the assumption is
expressed, and a tag part, where the interlocutors confirmation is invited. The latter are
conducive along the same lines, however they are even more so as the tag element is missing
and what is an assertion is turned into a question only by intonation. The declarative question
is a type of question which is identical in form to a statement, except for the final rising
question intonation. (...) The speaker takes the answer yes (or no) as a foregone conclusion
(Quirk et al. 1972.392-393). Let me just note that in their terminology declarative questions
are somehow mixed up with questions with different tags like I suppose, I think (cf. Bolinger
(1957)).
A high value is usually ascribed to intonation. As my data does not contain intonation
markers I present here a justification that conduciveness can be studied without a detailed
investigation of intonation.

Assuming that falling tone correlates with assertiveness and finality and that rising
tone correlates with lack of assertiveness and non-finality (cf. Pope, 1976:79), these
relations do not affect the order already established for the syntactic forms involved; it
may be concluded that a Q of a certain syntactic form with rising tone reflects As
assumption to a lesser degree and is also less conducive than the same Q with falling
tone. Despite the effect of intonation, the interrogative form is still the least conducive
and the declarative form the most conducive. (Stenstrm 1984.50)

28

It is also notable that these presuppositions about intonation in tag questions and
questions overall are not completely fulfilled in reality, with the falling tone representing a
large amount of questions (cf. Stenstrm (1984)). Let me conclude this chapter with a simple
table taken over from Stenstrm (1984.49), which will be later elaborated on.

Table 3.2: A Basic Scale of Conduciveness


Did John go to London?

Weak assumption - least conducive

John went to London, didnt he?


John went to London?

Strong assumption - most conducive

29

4. Questions in the Shipman Trial


Let me first introduce a table with the frequencies of the above categorized questions
as they occurred in the analysed text.

Table 4.1: Frequencies of Question Categories I.


Y/N questions

80

23,74%

Alternative questions

12

3,56%

Declarative questions

57

16,91%

Tag questions

117

34,72%

Questions with lexical tag

19

5,64%

Wh-questions

52

15,43%

Sum

337

100%

As can be seen, the most represented categories are tag questions, followed by yes-no
questions. However, as discussed above (see p.25), when we talk about the response they may
elicit, the categories of alternative questions, declarative questions, tag questions and
questions with lexical tag are, technically speaking, subcategories of the category of yes-no
questions. Let me therefore propose another table where this categorization is applied, with
the former category of Y/N questions now being renamed as Y/N questions proper.

Table 4.2: Frequencies of Question Categories II.


Y/N questions

Wh-questions
Alt Qs

Decl Qs

Tag Qs

Qs with LT

Y/N Qs proper

12
4,21%

57
20,00%

117
41,05%

19
6,67%

80
28,07%

52
15,43%

285
84,57%

Now the disparity between the frequencies of yes-no questions and wh-questions
becomes much more visible and proves what I have stated above (see p.17). The lawyer, in
order to achieve maximum control of the interrogation (along with maximal persuasive
advantage), needs to exploit questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no as often
as possible. This is also a finding of Luchjenbroers (1997), Raymond (2003), Danet (1980)
and many others.

30

Let me now focus on the diversification within the category of yes-no questions. I will
pay attention to how the subcategories differ in terms of their elicitative force and
conduciveness and how each of them adds to the persuasive discourse tactic of the lawyer.

4.1 Tag Questions


The category of tag questions has proven to be most frequent in the data I analysed,
representing 34.7% out of all the categories and 41% out of the yes-no questions
subcategories. Thus this category deserves further analysis. The following types of tag
questions, i.e. questions with a grammatical tag, were present in the corpus:

1) The reference clause (RC) is declarative:


a. positive clause + negative tag (pos+neg); reversed polarity (rp):
And that was untrue, wasn't it?
b. negative clause + positive tag (neg+pos); reversed polarity:
There is nothing there relevant to ECG either, is there?
c. positive clause + positive tag (pos + pos); constant polarity (cp):
You disagree with that evidence do you?
2) The reference clause is imperative:
a. positive clause + positive tag (pos+pos); constant polarity:
Look at page 918 A will you, the last document before the schedule.
3) The reference clause is exclamatory:
a. positive clause + negative tag (pos+neg); reversed polarity:
We have to say it, don't we, and then we have to ask don't we, how could Ivy
Lomas have taken a massive dose of morphine or diamorphine, how could that
have occurred in her case?

4.1.1 Semantic Interpretation of Tag Questions


Drawing on Nsslins study of English tag questions (1984), I want to clarify the
conducive aspects of this category along with some remarks on elicitative force. Nsslin
(1984.27-32) takes over Hudsons study (1975) and modifies it to some extent to explain the
underlying semantic structure of tag questions. The following remarks apply to questions
where the RC is declarative, as the type with imperative RC is conducive already by means of
the imposition that is present in the RC. On the other hand, conduciveness in the declarative
type is explained by Nsslin (1984) referring to Hudson (1975) as the logical result of
31

opposing conversational rules pertaining to the RC and the tag. Simply speaking, telling and
asking the same thing is confusing to the interlocutor, who can only arrive at the one logical
conclusion that the speaker wants him to agree (Nsslin 1984.26). It is this fact that enables
him to claim that tag questions are always conducive at the semantic level. He summarizes his
findings into two sincerity conditions (SC), which, when appearing together, bring about the
conduciveness (be it positive or negative) of the tag question.

The sincerity condition for declarative or the corresponding semantic category, e.g.
statement seems to be this:
[SC1] The speaker believes that the proposition is true. (1975:24 (59)).
The SC of the question in the tag is always:
[SC2] The speaker believes that the hearer knows at least as well as he himself does
whether the proposition is true or false. (1975:12 (20)). (Nsslin 1984.27)

However, it is a gross oversimplification that these two sincerity conditions always


produce conduciveness. One needs to consider other factors that dominate conversational
behaviour, viz. contextual factors, pragmatic factors and/or intonation. The speaker may
obviously ask the hearer about his/her view as the speaker him/herself is not sure about the
truth value of the proposition. Or the tag with SC2 may appear as a postmodification
(or afterthought) only: the speaker realizes his/her uncertainty only after the assertion has
been uttered and thus adds the tag as a question to which he/she expects rather opposition than
agreement (Nsslin 1984.28). This is to a great extent a matter of politeness strategies which I
will elaborate on in the section on the pragmatic underlying structure of tag questions (see
p.34).
However, given the discourse tactic as defined above (see p.17), I want to claim that
these two sincerity conditions in the institutional setting of cross-examination are always
conducive. Indeed, the prosecutor prepares all his/her questions in advance and thus
an occurrence of a tag that could be interpreted as a postmodification of the too hasty
proposition put forward by him/her, would be a proof of the prosecutors inexperience rather
than a universal aspect of legal cross-examination. The same applies to the lawyer being
uncertain about the truth value of the proposition: as I have mentioned above, the prosecutor
facing a threat of a lost case is virtually forbidden to ask questions to which he/she would not
know the answer. That is, the prosecutor in employing tag questions tells and asks the same
thing and thus the hearers (the witness, but more importantly the jury) can only arrive at the

32

conclusion that the speaker is asking them to confirm his/her proposition about the truth value
of which he/she is sincerely convinced.
What I have discussed concerns only reversed polarity tag questions. Nsslin (1984)
proposes another sincerity condition for constant polarity tag questions, which removes from
the speaker any personal opinions as to the truth value of the proposition in the RC.

[SC3] The speaker does not express any personal opinion as to the truth of the
proposition, he merely reports what other people say. The speaker has only reasons to
believe that the hearer or other people believe the proposition is true. (Nsslin
1984.29)

According to Quirk et al. (1976), constant polarity tag questions indicate the
speakers arrival at a conclusion by inference, or by recalling what has already been said
(1976.392). The conduciveness of this type is of a different nature. The speaker in expressing
no opinion as to the truth value of the proposition and at the same time asking about it does
not provide any contradiction. The clue to conduciveness can be figured out only through
context. The interlocutor has already made the speaker believe that he thinks [a proposition
is true] (...) and, therefore, when asked, he will be expected to agree. If the interlocutor has
not expressed his opinion earlier but other people have said that they think [a proposition is
true] (...), the speaker wants to know if the hearer subscribes to this view too. Now the
sentence is not conducive, not even in the wider sense of conducive when used about cp
APTSs [constant polarity tag questions], i.e. when the speaker expects agreement as a
repetition of a view the interlocutor has already professed (Nsslin 1984.29).
I rather disagree with Nsslin on this point, since I believe that in the legal setting of
the cross-examination the constant polarity tag question is even more conducive than the
reversed polarity tag question. The prosecutor in presenting the witness with a question the
truth value of which has been established in the course of the preceding examination (i.e.
through the preceding context), is usually presenting it in a new context which may now
prove harmful to the witness and thus he/she needs to disagree. This becomes, however, very
difficult by means of the conducive constant polarity tag question which lays the
responsibility on the witness, who once accepted the truth value of the proposition and now
disagrees with him/herself. The jury will of course be aware of this and thus the witness by
rejecting the proposition of the question is corrupting his/her previous testimony which is
exactly the aim of the cross-examining prosecutor. Examples of this procedure will be
provided in the analysis that follows.

33

Nsslin (1984) continues examining the constant polarity tag question in terms of
elicitative force.

The comments on the difference between cp APTSs and rp APTSs are vague in
linguistic literature. A common statement is that cp APTSs are closer to direct
questions than rp APTSs. (...) A speaker who is neutral to the truth value of
proposition is experienced by the hearer to be more in need of an answer than a
speaker who has already said that he believes or even knows that his proposition is
true. (Nsslin 1984.31)

In this case I would once again be inclined to disagree. If the truth value of the
proposition has already been established in the preceding context, the speakers constant
polarity tag question does not really expect an answer (different from a nod or some gesture
encouraging the speaker to continue), the tag is here in my view a polite consideration of the
hearers presence and of the possibility of a different opinion (this possibility is, however,
very limited).

4.1.2 Pragmatic Interpretation of Tag Questions


I touched upon some pragmatic aspects when applying contextual devices to the
discussion of the semantic underlying structures. Now I will elaborate more on conduciveness
as pragmatics would have it. It will be seen that the understanding is similar to the semantic
approach, although using different concepts.
Leech (1983.30-44) discusses the pragmatic interpretation as problem-solving. One
needs to look at what the speaker is trying to achieve through a means-ends analysis and at the
same time how the hearer interprets the message in terms of heuristic analysis. The discussion
is based on universal conversational rules devised by Grice (1968). Gricess rules are devised
via the concept of the Cooperative Principle (CP) to which Leech adds the Politeness
Principle (PP) these two for him are the basic principles that can help us interpret human
communication (there are also others, which are not useful for my analysis; cf. Leech (1983)).
One of the rules of the CP is the so-called Maxim of Quality.

Quality: Try to make your contribution one that is true: ie


1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence. (Leech 1983.8)
The CP enables one participant in a conversation to communicate on the assumption
that the other participant is being cooperative. In this the CP has the function of
regulating what we say so that it contributes to some assumed illocutionary or
discoursal goal(s). It could be argued, however, that the PP has a higher regulative role

34

than this: to maintain the social equilibrium and the friendly relations which enable us
to assume that our interlocutors are being cooperative in the first place. (Leech
1983.82)

When applying these to the analysis of tag questions we immediately find out why
Quirk et al. (1976) described tag questions and declarative questions as inherently conducive.
The RC of the tag question is in the form of declarative (semantically a statement) and
according to the Maxim of Quality, this statement expresses speakers view that what he/she
says is true (cf. SC1 above). However, such an assertion is rather infrequent in normal
conversation as it contradicts the PP, i.e. telling your interlocutor that what you say is truth
and nothing but the truth would definitely be considered by him/her impolite. Therefore the
grammatical tag is attached to the RC, which has a mitigating effect: it provides the hearer
with the possibility to disagree (as will be seen, in the declarative question this function is
supplied by intonation). The PP which reflects itself in the tag can thus be compared to SC2.
However, as Nsslin (1984.49) argues, in Hudsons theory the sincerity conditions are
balanced, whereas in the pragmatic interpretation, referring to Lakoff (1972), the sincerity
condition of the RC always dominates the sincerity condition of the tag. The domination of
the RC can be highlighted by employing accentuation, which is another frequent pragmatic
feature used to support the speakers standpoint. Accentuation is a feature modifying the
illocutionary force the meaning becomes reinforced, underlined, exaggerated, explicit
(Urbanov 2003.66). As accentuation cannot be studied here in detail, consider the imbalance
that is produced by looking at a few examples.
Example 5:
Q. She could not possibly have done so, could she?
Example 6:
Q. Now look, the plain truth of the matter is that you were telling Carol Chapman that your
ECG machine wasn't working, weren't you?
Example 7:
Q. Carol Chapman has every reason to remember vividly what occurred that afternoon, has
she not?
The proposition of the RC purports to be true due to the Maxim of Quality and this is
reinforced by the use of accentuation. Such a strong assertiveness is balanced (not equally as
was shown) by the polite tag, providing the possibility to disagree.
Coming back to the constraints of the institutional setting, my claim is that the polite
feature, i.e. the tag, is directed at the members of the jury (rather than at the witness) as the
prosecutors means of saving his/her face. Were it not for the jury, the prosecutor would, in

35

my view, exploit even more conducive devices, maintaining as high degree of interrogation
control as possible. However, not to be despised by the members of the jury for his/her
arrogant assertiveness and abusing his/her institutional power and for the jury not to feel
compassionate with the witness, he/she needs to mitigate the uttered propositions.
The tag question thus allows the prosecutor to employ a high degree of conduciveness
and at the same time be polite. This is then turned against the witness, who interprets the
question as one looking for a particular answer (along with the members of the jury) and by
uttering a response that does not conform to the expectation created by the question (because
the design of the question is harmful to him/her), he/she risks to create the tension: the jury
was looking for some kind of response and the witness produced a different one.

Example 8:
Q. Well, if this lady died at 10 minutes past 4 she must have been administered or
administered to herself diamorphine between certainly 4 o'clock and 10 past 4, mustn't she?
A. You can put the evidence that way and yes I would agree.
Q. You were with Ivy Lomas throughout all that time, weren't you?
A. I don't disagree with that statement.
Q. Continuously with her. We can see when you were first with her because that is shown on
the computer screen. If you pull out the A3 schedule, 15.57 and 16 seconds, "Seen in GP's
surgery. Dr. H. F. Shipman." That is not a backdated entry. And so that indicates that at 3.57
you were in the presence of Ivy Lomas?
A. I'm not disagreeing with that.
Q. And you say to us here and now, do you, that you were continuously in her presence up to
the moment that she collapsed and died?
A. Allowing for the time taken for resuscitation, yes.
Q. How then did Ivy Lomas get that diamorphine into her system?
A. I have no knowledge.
Q. Dr. Shipman, there is simply no sensible explanation, is there?
A. Was that a statement or was it a question?
Q. You know very well it was a question, formulated as a question requiring an answer. Dr.
Shipman, there is no sensible explanation, is there?
A. I know, do not know of any explanation.
This example is one of the crucial points of the whole cross-examination I came across
in my analysis. There are questions that precede the final accusation, all of them formulated as
closed questions and all of them conducive to agreement. Note well that there is an openended wh-question however in the context that is provided, this question cannot be
answered narratively as to win some credibility on the part of the witness; on the contrary, the
only explanation that could answer this question is Dr. Shipmans guilt. Through the context
thus created the final accusation is also strongly conducive and Dr. Shipman in providing the
non-conforming response loses the whole battle of words. It has been proven to him that by
36

the time that the fatal dose of diamorphine was administered to the victim, he must have been
there.
The example above also points to another pragmatic feature of conduciveness, which I
have already partly mentioned, and that is the context. I now want to discuss another
pragmatic device, which relates to the context and that is the emphasis on symmetrical
relations between the participants in conversation. Urbanov (2003.45) defines symmetrical
relations between participants in conversation as a state where an atmosphere of mutuality,
confirmation, agreement and commitment prevails, a state, when the participants share the
same ground. The CP and the PP underline these relations as those that are preferred in
everyday conversation. [D]eclarative questions with or without intonation or lexical
markers, as well as declarative questions accompanied by tags or prompters, reinforce the
effect of confirmation and agreement, including commitment (Urbanov 2003.45). Thus
another pragmatic aspect of tag questions that is derived from their conduciveness is that tag
questions are mostly confirmation-seeking. I claim that in the legal setting they always seek
for confirmation, thus creating an atmosphere of agreement.

Example 9:
Q. If an ambulance had been sent to your surgery Ivy Lomas would have been taken away to
hospital, wouldn't she?
A. Yes, she would have done.
Q. And when she was taken away to hospital she would have been the patient of the doctor at
the accident and emergency department of presumably Tameside General Hospital?
A. Yes.
Q. And when it came to whether or not a death certificate was to be signed and whether the
coroner was to be informed, it would be that person's decision and not yours, wouldn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. That would take Ivy Lomas out of your control, wouldn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. That was why no ambulance was ever summoned by you in these cases, isn't it?
A. No.
This example shows how a chain of confirmation-seeking questions builds up the
context and creates an atmosphere of confirmation, both of which in turn significantly
contribute to the conduciveness of the last question, which is an accusation harmful to the
witness. In fact it will be seen that all questions used by the prosecutor in the
cross-examination, with the exception of wh-questions and alternative questions, are to
a certain degree confirmation-seeking. If an analysis were performed as to how the witness
can oppose this tactic in his/her responses, it would very probably result in his/her trying to

37

establish asymmetrical relations in conversation via the functions of information,


clarification and repetition (cf. Urbanov (2003.45)).

4.1.3 Conducive Aspects of Tag Questions - Summary


Through the discussion of the semantic and pragmatic interpretation of tag questions
applied to the institutional setting of the legal cross-examination I have shown that tag
questions are the fundamental conducive technique exploited by the prosecutor for the sake of
jury persuasion.
Tag questions consisting of a declarative part followed by an interrogative one create
through their grammatical form a logical opposition of two sincerity conditions, which, in the
courtroom, can lead to only one interpretation on the part of the jury and the witness, i.e. an
invitation to agree. As regards constant polarity tag questions, the institutional context is
needed to classify this category as conducive. The speaker referring to a previously agreed on
proposition creates a strong invitation for agreement without even expressing his/her opinion
about the matter. Constant polarity tag questions are therefore higher on the scale of
conduciveness than reversed polarity tag questions however this again applies only to the
situation of cross-examination, in normal authentic conversation it would probably be vice
versa.
The context is one of the pragmatic features of conduciveness in tag questions.
Another is the interrelation of the Cooperative Principle (viz. the Maxim of Quality) and the
Politeness Principle. The interrogative part of the tag question is interpreted by the hearer as
a polite consideration of his/her being a partner in conversation, whereas the declarative part
retains its strongly conducive affiliation towards the truth value of the proposition.
Conduciveness of the first part is reinforced by the use of accentuation, thus creating an
imbalance between the two parts, resulting in the reinforcement of the invitation to agree.
This confirmation-seeking feature of tag questions is exploited in chains of questions, which
then contribute significantly to the establishment of an atmosphere of agreement in

which

a denial of a proposition becomes rather difficult, as it creates tension with regard to the
expectation of the witness response.

38

4.1.4 Elicitative Force


The elicitative force of tag questions is a function that is significantly linked with their
conduciveness. However, as the scope of my thesis does not allow me to study responses to
tag questions in detail, I just want to draw some general conclusions that emerge from the
general rules of conversational behaviour and from the findings by Nsslin (1984).
I have already discussed the elicitative force of constant polarity tag questions,
implying that their lesser degree of the answer expectation contributes to the fact that an
affirmative answer is taken for granted, thus making it difficult for the witness to reject
his/her proposition.
As far as reversed polarity tag questions are concerned, Nsslin (1984) found out in
her analysis that as many as 71.9% of the pos+neg are answered when the tag has fall (...).
The correlation is not much higher between rise in the tag and answers: 76.2% (Nsslin
1984.129). (This is a rather interesting observation as it rebuts the commonly held belief that
the intonation of the tag disambiguates the tag question in terms of it being a statement or
a question.) It thus seems, that rp tag questions are really posed by the speaker for the hearer
to confirm (verbally or non-verbally). The possibility is also open for disagreement, however
given the inclination of the speaker towards a particular answer in terms of conduciveness, it
is clear that this possibility will be rare. Indeed as Nsslin (1984.134) points out, there is
a predominance of positive answers (51.5% to pos+neg and 48.4% to neg+pos as opposed to
4.2% and 1.6% negative answers respectively). This predominance is, of course, in
accordance with what has been stated above that there is, generally speaking, preference in
the human communication for agreement.
A lower degree of elicitative force can be seen in tag questions where the grammatical
tag is not in the final position. The fact that the speaker continues talking signifies that he/she
either takes agreement for granted or that the interlocutor chooses not to answer. The
majority of the missing answers seems to be A+[agreement] (Nsslin 1984.125). The
discussion of non-final tags follows (see p.44).
To sum up: the lower the degree of elicitative force the more the question is conducive
to agreement, which applies for cp tag questions and tag questions with the tag in non-final
position. As for rp tag questions, answer usually follows, however, agreement is more
common and in fact preferred by the very character of conversation (creating an atmosphere
of agreement). That is in the legal setting, employing questions that require no answer is in
accordance with the discourse tactic, as is the utilisation of rp tag questions that are usually
followed by an answer but they expect confirmation.
39

4.1.5 Tag questions in the Shipman Trial


A table reflecting the analysis of the above discussed categories as regards their
numerical representation in the text follows.

Table 4.3: Frequencies of Tag Question Types


Tag questions - diversification
Reversed polarity

pos + neg

87

72.5%

neg + pos

24

20%

Constant polarity

pos + pos

4.17%

Imperative TQs

Constant polarity

pos + pos

1.67%

Exclamatory TQs

Reversed polarity

pos + neg

1.67%

Declarative TQs

4.1.5.1 Exceptions
Only two instances of imperative tag questions were found in the text. They were
polite instructions as the type pos+pos indicates: the tag provides opportunity to disagree and
thus is face-saving.
Example 10:
Let's go to the bundle of photographs shall we.
Example 11:
Look at page 918 A will you, the last document before the schedule.
Similarly, two instances of exclamatory tag questions were found, in fact both
instances in one sentence, which is useful to provide in the whole context.
Example 12:
Q. And what would you then say that in fact the cause of death was in Ivy Lomas's case?
A. At the time a coronary thrombosis. With the information that is available now we have to
say it is morphine toxicity.
Q. We have to say it, don't we, and then we have to ask don't we, how could Ivy Lomas have
taken a massive dose of morphine or diamorphine, how could that have occurred in her case?
A. I would agree with you that that is the question to ask.
The two exclamations are evidently used to ridicule the witness in order to challenge
his depersonalized answering as a pragmatic tactic which strives to produce the conforming
answer as regards agreement (NB. negative answer is not possible). However, at the same
time, it strives to shift the focus from any personal commitment as far as the contents of the
proposition are concerned.

40

4.1.5.2 Reversed Polarity Tag Questions


In these considerations I will focus on tag questions, where the first part is in the form
of declarative statement.
The majority (95.7%) of all tag questions asked in the analysed excerpt are of reversed
polarity. Together with the fact that tag questions are the most frequent questions in the whole
corpus, this is of high significance. It seems that rp tag questions are the most useful questions
for the sake of cross-examination discourse tactic. That is, given their grammatical form, their
utilisation grants the prosecutor substantial interrogation control. The witness is expected to
answer with either yes or no, both of which answers can be institutionally enforced and any
other evaluative comments may be requested by the cross-examining lawyer to be stricken
from the record. Employing rp tag questions, the prosecutor is perceived as behaving
politely, i.e. he/she is asking the interlocutor for confirmation, is asking him/her to take part
in the conversation; an answer is expected. Nevertheless, the possibility of a negative answer
is largely hindered by the high degree of conduciveness made possible by the fact that the RC
can be loaded with devices that reinforce the speakers standpoint. This persuasive aspect is
supported by the fact that in human communication conforming answers are preferred.
Within the category of rp tag questions, pos+neg are much more frequent than
neg+pos. Out of the rp tag questions, 78.4% were pos+neg and 21.6% were neg+pos. This
roughly coincides with the findings of Nsslin (1984) who claims that this is due to some
general rule of conversation to the effect that positive statements are more frequent than
negative statements (1984.130), which consequently influences syntax. However in
Nsslins (1984) findings the pos+neg were 3.8 times as frequent as neg+pos, whereas in my
corpus it is 3.1 times i.e. in the cross-examination the neg+pos type is more frequent than in
normal conversation.
The reason the prosecutor is employing neg+pos types is that usually the situation
he/she wants to describe cannot be worded differently if tag question is to be utilised. In many
instances it is the situation of describing how something happened and wording the opposite
hypothesis to that of the witness.
Example 13:
Q. Of course there was never any point in summoning an ambulance in Ivy Lomas's
case, was there?
Here the prosecutor points to the fact that in the previous discussion it was established
that an ambulance would be helpful, though Dr. Shipman did not take that option at the time.

41

However, using this construction, the prosecutor implies that there was no point in
summoning an ambulance due to the fact that Dr. Shipman actually murdered the patient.
Note how the grammatical construction of the tag question allows the prosecutor to form the
whole accusation, leaving no real options for response.
Example 14:
Q. And you say to us here and now, do you, that you were continuously in her
presence up to the moment that she collapsed and died?
A. Allowing for the time taken for resuscitation, yes.
Q. How then did Ivy Lomas get that diamorphine into her system?
A. I have no knowledge.
Q. Dr. Shipman, there is simply no sensible explanation, is there?
A. Was that a statement or was it a question?
Through the context it has been established that there is no other explanation than the
doctors guilt. However, the prosecutor makes sure that the jury understands this by wording
this out explicitly in the neg+pos form. If he employed the pos+neg form, Dr. Shipman, there
is surely some sensible explanation, isnt there?, he would imply that Dr. Shipman did not
do it and that is of course contrary to what he wants to achieve. Similarly employing a yes-no
question (e.g. Is there any other possible explanation?) would deprive the prosecutor of the
advantage of wording the statement which actually impeaches the witness and would give
more space to implicature, i.e. the prosecutor could not be sure if all the members of the jury
understood his point (e.g. they could expect an affirmative answer to the question).
The following examples function similarly:
Example 15:
Q. But it does not work, does it, in Ivy Lomas's case? Where could she have got the
diamorphine from?
Example 16:
Q. There was nothing, was there, of a confidential nature here requiring you to make an
entry on a Lloyd George card, was there?
Example 17:
Q. That is not what the record says, is it?

4.1.5.3 Constant Polarity Tag Questions


There were only five instances of cp tags in my corpus. I already discussed that along
with a lower degree of elicitative force there can be traced a higher degree of conduciveness
as opposed to rp tags. This characteristic is propped up by the fact that out of the 5 instances
of cp tags, 4 occurred in the non-final position of the sentence. The conduciveness of tag
questions with non-final tags was discussed above (see p.39).

42

Example 18:
Q. Do you remember when you were holding forth about the death of Nora Nuttall there
were two ladies in your waiting area and you with your arms aloft told them how you knew
this would happen, "I've been saying for a long time that this would happen?"
A. Do I remember that?
Q. Yes. That is the evidence?
A. I remember it being said.
Q. You disagree with that evidence do you?
A. I do.
In this example it can be seen that in the exchanges preceding the cp tag question, the
form of dr. Shipmans answer enabled the prosecutor to infer that he disagrees with an
evidence given by a different witness. That is, the premise of the cp tag question has been
established in the preceding context and SC3 can thus be applied. The proposition is
self-evident and therefore strongly conducive if explicitly worded.
Let me here present all the instances of cp tag questions with their responses.
Example 19:
Q. I see. Now you contend do you that you used all your best efforts to revive Ivy Lomas?
A. Yes.
Example 20:
Q. And you say to us here and now, do you, that you were continuously in her presence up to
the moment that she collapsed and died?
A. Allowing for the time taken for resuscitation, yes.
Example 21:
Q. So you very much take issue, do you, with Carol Chapman's version of the facts there?
A. As presented to me at this moment, yes.
Example 22:
Q. Let me understand this, you are saying are you that 1978 is an indication that she had
ischaemic heart disease?
A. I'm saying her doctor thought it was worth while querying an ECG.
All these examples meet the expectations that were established in the above
discussion. All answers are affirmative, although two of them are agreed to with a slight
modification. The reason for this is that the prosecutor actually uses these tag questions (with
which one cannot really disagree) as a springboard for presenting a version of facts that in the
end proves harmful to the witness. The witness feels this threat and reacts accordingly.
The first example is followed by a context in which the prosecutor proves that
Dr. Shipman either did not use all his best efforts to revive the patient or that he is
incompetent both of which are harmful to him as establishing the former could imply that
he killed her and establishing the latter would mean that he would lose some of his credibility
in all exchanges where his medical performance would be put into question. The doctor,
unaware of what is to come, answers simply and not evasively yes.

43

The second example leads to what was discussed above in example 8: a direct
accusation of Dr. Shipman and of his guilt.
The third example is followed by showing disparity between the evidence of
Dr. Shipman and the evidence of his employee Carol Chapman, the aim of which is that the
jury rejects Dr. Shipmans version of the facts. The affirmative answer is qualified by
Dr. Shipman who is aware where this is leading the affirmation is thus mitigated. However,
the prosecutor immediately attacks this qualification:
Example 23:
Q. There is no question about me presenting it to you at this moment. That was the evidence
that Carol Chapman herself presented to the Court when she was giving evidence in relation
to Ivy Lomas's case. Do you understand?
A. I understand.
The evasive tactic is thus immediately challenged. Similar procedures follow the last
example.

4.1.5.4 Non-final tags


There were 32 instances of tags in the non-final position of the question. Out of all
the tag questions this amounts to roughly 27%. I discussed the conducive aspects of this
category above (see p.39). Non-final tags comply with the discourse tactic of the prosecutor
and their high frequency is a proof. As opposed to tags in the final position, these are less
polite as an affirmative answer is taken for granted and it is even not expected. It seems that
the prosecutor makes use of the impositive aspect of non-final tags and uses them for serious
allegations or to create ground for later allegations. Consider these examples:
Example 24:
Q. That was a bare faced lie, wasn't it, to a trusted employee?
Example 25:
Q. You had a major problem, according to you and your version of the facts, didn't you, upon
her collapse?
Example 26:
Q. This was just bluster on your part, wasn't it, to try to explain away why you had not
attended to Ivy Lomas?
Example 27:
Q. It is worse than unprofessional, isn't it, just to leave somebody for dead in a back room?
Example 28:
Q. But it does not work, does it, in Ivy Lomas's case? Where could she have got the
diamorphine from?
Example 29:
Q. And that would give you, wouldn't it, between 10 past 4 and 6 o'clock to make the
appropriate entry in Ivy Lomas's case?

44

4.1.5.5 Personal Pronouns and Auxiliaries in the Tags

Table 4.4: Tag Auxiliaries


Frequency of auxiliary verbs
be
63
52,50%
do
27
22,50%
have
14
11,67%
would
8
6,67%
could
4
3,33%
will
1
0,83%
shall
1
0,83%
must
1
0,83%
should
1
0,83%

Table 4.5: Tag Pronouns


Frequency of pronouns in tags
you
50
41,67%
it
44
36,67%
she
12
10,00%
there
9
7,50%
we
3
2,50%
he
1
0,83%
they
1
0,83%

The most frequent auxiliary used is be, which along with the two most frequent
pronouns you and it signifies that facts are very frequently discussed and that reference to the
witness is most frequent in the tags. The frequency of the pronoun she results from the fact
that evidence by women or reference to women (Carol Chapman and Ivy Lomas respectively)
is discussed.

4.1.5.6 Tag Questions in the Shipman Trial - Summary


To sum up what I have discussed with regard to the function of tag questions in the
legal cross-examination I present here a table which makes use of the two central features of
analysis, i.e. conduciveness and elicitative force. I add interrogation control for illustration
and for reference to specific legal terminology.

45

Table 4.6: Functions of Tag Questions in the Shipman trial


Summary of findings
Elicitative force Conduciveness Interrogation Control
Reversed polarity

pos + neg
neg + pos

Declarative TQs
Constant polarity pos + pos

Non-final tags

4.2 Questions with Lexical Tag


Let us now discuss questions with lexical tag (LT) as they resemble most the category
of tag questions, viz. tag questions with non-final tags, and they seem to me to provide a link
between tag questions and declarative questions.
There were 19 instances of questions with LT, which amounts to 6.7% of all the
yes-no questions and 5.6% of all the questions together. The lexical tags that I recognized
here were sometimes present also in the category of tag questions, however I discuss only
those that are the sole features distinguishing the category of questions with LT from the
category of declarative questions. Among the lexical tags were: I'm going to suggest to you,
you say, I'm asking you, you have told us, you say, you mean, if I have understood it, is that
right, you heard it, I take it, you agree.
Similar conclusions can be made to those that were reached regarding the tag
questions. Namely, the statement in the declarative form has SC1 and SC2 is implied in the
use of the lexical tag, which makes the hearer interpret the statement as a question. However,
one that is again strongly conducive (even more than tag questions) and with a lower degree
of elicitative force. In pragmatic terms the Maxim of Quality applied to the statement makes
the hearer interpret that the speaker believes what he/she is saying and by a tentation, a hedge
(an attenuation) expresses his/her uncertainty in order not to sound too impolite and create the
opportunity for the interlocutor to disagree. That is, the illocutionary force of questions with
LT is interpreted similarly to tag questions, however shifting lower on the scale of
questionness and elicitative force and higher on the scale of conduciveness and interrogation
control. The utilisation of this category thus complies with the discourse tactic of the
prosecutor performing a cross-examination. The category of questions with LT strongly

46

resembles that of tag questions with non-final tag and is one step closer to declarative
questions where the function of SC2 or PP is supplied by intonation only.
Example 30:
Q. I'm going to suggest to you that even before Ivy Lomas went down that corridor on your
version of the facts this was a case for an ambulance?
Example 31:
Q. But you went on, you say, to take the blood pressure?
Example 32:
Q. First of all, you told Carol Chapman a deliberate lie, is that right?
Example 33:
Q. You agree, I take it, that you had the opportunity of administering diamorphine to Ivy
Lomas?
The utilisation of personal lexical tags (such as Im going to suggest, you say) is more
frequent than the utilisation of impersonal tags, of which there are only two instances (both
are is that right). This follows the face-saving strategy in that personal tags show a higher
degree of subjectivity and thus they are more polite.

4.3 Declarative Questions


There were 57 instances of declarative questions. SC2 or the face-saving device is
provided by intonation only, which makes this category the most impositive and the least
polite (see table below).
Let me summarize the discussion of tag questions, questions with lexical tag and
declarative questions in a table which again employs the most important features, i.e. those of
conduciveness, elicitative force, interrogation control and questionness. The table highlights
the similarities between these categories which are only distinct in terms of the degree of
utilization of each feature.

Table 4.7: Tag Questions, Questions with LT, Declarative Questions Summary
Elicitative force

Questionness

Tag questions - rp
Tag questions - cp
TQs with non-final tag
Questions with LT
Declarative questions

47

Conduciveness

Interrogation Control

4.4 Yes-No Questions Proper


This category is the second most frequent one, amounting to 28% of all the studied
yes-no questions. The function that is most frequently attached to this category is that of
polarity (cf. Stenstrm 1984). The grammatical form of the question sets constraints on the
response that follows in that it creates preference for a certain type of answer yes or no, or
rather agreement or negation. This is why it is the second most frequent category in the
cross-examination as the answer that this structure prefers, can be enforced by law and thus
the utilisation of this category allows for a significant exercise of interrogation control.
However, drawing on Raymond (2003), I want to claim that in the cross-examination the
function of yes-no questions proper is not one of polarity, but once again one of
confirmation. If the design of the question can call for a particular form of answer, either yes
or no, the speakers can manipulate the design or composition of their YNIs [yes-no
interrogatives] to provide for a second type of preference (Raymond 2003.943), which is an
alignment with strictly one or the other answer.
Example 34:
Q. Do you accept that when you gave your evidence you said that she was walking into the
surgery, "I recall seeing her that day. She was walking into the surgery?"
Example 35:
Q. Did you contemplate at all an adrenaline injection?
Example 36:
Q. Was there anything to be lost by giving her an adrenaline injection?
Example 37:
Q. Do you still deny telling Sergeant Reade that Ivy Lomas was a nuisance?
These examples show that even yes-no questions proper can be conducive towards
agreement or disagreement.
In the first example, the case of not accepting would be regarded as a rejection of a
testimony that the witness himself gave previously, which would lead to the rejection of the
version of facts that was put forward by Dr. Shipman and thus to the lessening of the achieved
degree of credibility.
In the example 35, at all implies the negative answer.
In the third example, the non-assertive form anything suggests that there was really
nothing to be lost. A patient is dying and one should try whatever means possible to revive
her. Similarly, if instead of anything the word were something, this would imply a positive
answer; such a question would probably be asked at a direct examination the lawyer would
try to remind the witness of something they agreed on previously that should be heard in the

48

courtroom. During the direct examination leading questions may not be used, thus other forms
of leading have to be employed.
In the last example, it is a question that was already asked before and in the following
exchanges, the prosecutor tried to prove (using e.g. tag questions) to the witness that his
answer is unreliable. After the context has been established, the question can be posed again,
now with a high degree of conduciveness towards the affirmative pole.
Many of the yes-no questions proper are truly polar and with a low degree of
conduciveness. Such are asked by the prosecutor for a certain sequence to be established and
for some facts to be revisited and repeated. The conduciveness of these is not that important
as it only introduces the facts that function as the background for later interrogation that
slowly closes up towards the main point at issue (an allegation or a rejection of the witness
previous testimonies), utilising more conducive forms that are less question-like, viz. tag
questions and declarative questions.
Example 38:
Q. Do you agree and stand by what you said last week?
Example 39:
Q. Is Carol Chapman wrong about that?
Example 40:
Q. Did you laugh in the presence of Sergeant Reade?
Example 41:
Q. Was she able to walk along the corridor to your examination room?
To sum up, yes-no questions proper are employed by the prosecutor rather frequently,
their function can be polar as the grammars would claim, however the majority of these
questions will be asked with a bias towards a given answer, their function thus being that of
confirmation-seeking. I have discussed above why this is important. Let me then conclude
that I consider yes-no questions proper as a category which is higher on the scale of elicitative
force and lower on the scale of conduciveness, as opposed to the above discussed categories.
These functions are nevertheless present and utilised by the prosecutor, which makes this
category another one that complies with the outlined discourse tactic.

4.5 Alternative Questions


This is the rarest category, represented in my corpus by 12 instances only, which is
3.6%. As Bolinger (1957) claims this category could actually be perceived as a compressed
form of yes-no questions. However, I think this category has its justification in the sense that
if it were substituted by yes-no questions, this would lead to the violation of the Maxim of
Quantity and also to the violation of the PP and of the Economy Principle (cf. Leech 1983).

49

Bolingers example Will you have oranges? No. Grapefruit? No. Tangerines then.
(1957.114) violates these rules already in the first sentence, which does not give the right
amount of information, therefore is not polite (if someone is offering me oranges only, he/she
does not want me to have his/her grapefruits) and not economical.
As regards their function in the legal discourse, alternative questions differ from
yes-no questions proper in that they are truly polar as regards their grammatical form. Their
conduciveness can be established only through the context and this may not be immediately
perceptible by the members of the jury. The allegations have to be then worded explicitly
using more conducive forms of questions. The advantage of alternative questions lies in their
polarity. The witness can answer the question only be choosing one of the options, evasive
answers are almost excluded the degree of interrogation control is very high. Thus
alternative questions serve as a springboard for a certain line of questioning or as a coercive
device if the witness is reluctant to answer the preceding questions without qualifying them.
The former is reflected in the first example, the latter in the second.
Example 42:
Q. When you admitted your next patient to your room was Ivy Lomas dead or alive?
Example 43:
Q. But which do you take first, pulse or blood pressure?

4.6 Wh-questions
The last category of wh-questions comprises 52 instances, which amounts to roughly
15.4%. This category is one of the dispreferred ones in the legal manuals. Wh-questions call
for an elaboration of the proposition, for providing information Stenstrm (1984) classifies
them as requests for information. As has been discussed above in relation to the discourse
tactic of a cross-examining lawyer, the utilisation of this category is dangerous in that it
provides the witness with the opportunity to win the favour of the members of the jury
he/she can answer rather freely, employing the vocabulary that prefers his/her case and
referring to his/her interpretation of the facts and consequently gaining points in terms of
his/her evaluation by the jury. That is why leading questions are advised to be used during
cross-examination as frequently as possible. However, the frequency of this type of questions
is small but still significant. Does it mean that the cross-examining lawyer in the case of
Dr. Shipmans trial is inefficient?
Bolinger (1957) recognized only three types of conducive wh-questions, i.e. rhetorical
questions, suggestions for action and questions that are conducive by means of the

50

undesirable lexis. However apart from example 10, which could be considered as a
rhetorical question, it would be difficult to find any of the mentioned types.
Example 44:
Q. What time did you admit the next patient to your room?
Example 45:
Q. Where is that recorded, her pulse and her blood pressure?
Example 46:
Q. Where could she have got the diamorphine from?
Example 47:
Q. What do you think would have happened if you had told an officer of the law that your
ECG machine wasn't working and she had died in your presence?
Example 48:
Q. What time is the computer switched off?
Looking at these examples it becomes clear that although wh-questions are generally
supposed to be open and non-restrictive as regards the answer they elicit, in the legal situation
they can be formed in a way that they expect a minimal response and lay constraints on the
type of response that is to follow. [T]he answers sought to wh-questions are (potentially) just
as restrictive as other interrogative types, in that there is only one legitimate answer and legal
professionals already know what it is. (...) [W]h-questions are often answered minimally (i.e.
are not open-ended, or are not treated as open-ended) (Luchjenbroers 1997.487-488).
Though wh-questions would not be used extensively in the climax of
cross-examination, they are very useful for establishing the context and for trying to put the
desired (that has been prepared through the context) conclusion into the mouth of the witness
if he/she worded it explicitly, he/she would actually accuse him/herself of the crime. That is,
the conduciveness of wh-questions lies in its establishment through the preceding context and
in not asking for a particular answer but rather in suggesting a conclusion that derives from
the context. Through the interpretation of context, the suggestion is formed in the minds of the
members of the jury and the witness. Again, tension is created as the suggested conclusion is
contrasted to the actual answer of the witness. Consider these examples:
Example 49:
Q. And the reason that you are disagreeing with Sergeant Reade's evidence is this, isn't it,
that you had to give to him the version of facts that would most certainly avoid a postmortem?
A. No.
Q. What do you think would have happened if you had told an officer of the law that your
ECG machine wasn't working and she had died in your presence?
A. I haven't any idea of what he would have thought.
Q. Do you think it is more likely, that that disclosure would make it more likely that the
coroner would be informed or less likely?
A. I don't know which one he would choose.

51

Q. If he knows or if he has been told there may been a mechanical breakdown in the ECG
machine, he is likely to inform the coroner isn't he?
A. I don't know what the procedure is.
Q. Does not that occur to you as a real possibility? "Here is an accident that has occurred,
ECG machine not working in a local doctor's surgery. I think the coroner should know
something about this." That is why you were giving different versions to Carol Chapman and
to Sergeant Reade, isn't it?
A. No.
All these questions are actually directed to one conclusion, i.e. that Dr. Shipman lied
to the investigating police officer about the circumstances of the patients death and the
reason was that he wanted to avoid that a postmortem had been performed, which would point
to the fact that the patient did not die of a heart attack but of diamorphine poisoning. The
wh-question is asking Dr. Shipman to provide that one possible conclusion that derives from
the context. Because he answers evasively (of course he does not want to corrupt himself),
more closed questions are used and finally a reversed polarity tag question is used to
pronounce the whole conclusion explicitly, with only a grammatical tag turning it into a
question.
Example 50:
Q. How then did Ivy Lomas get that diamorphine into her system?
A. I have no knowledge.
Example 51:
Q. If you say there was a point why didn't you?
A. It was one of the options I had.
Example 52:
Q. Well, why didn't she have one?
A. Because I didn't think of it on that day.
Example 53:
Q. Why didn't you say that last week?
A. I cannot give you a sensible explanation. If that's what I said last week that's what I said
last week.
These examples show the restrictiveness of wh-questions used in my corpus. It is not
possible to elaborate on these questions and thus attempt to win some credibility. Those
answers that are elaborate are usually used for the development of questioning or the line of
questioning is immediately stopped and the prosecutor changes the topic of discussion.

52

4.7 Summary of Overall Findings


To sum up the discussion of all the categories of questions that are represented in the
corpus, I propose a table which illustrates the degree to which the four factors are determining
in the discussion of questions in the legal setting of cross-examination.

Table 4.8: Summary of the Degree of Incidence of the Various Question-Functions


Summary of the Degree of Incidence of the Various Question-Functions
Elicitative force Questionness Conduciveness

Interrogation Control

Wh-questions
Alternative questions
Classical Yes-no questions
Tag questions - rp
Tag questions - cp
TQs with non-final tag
Questions with LT
Declarative questions

It was shown that all the categories are able to comply through their functions with the
discourse tactic of the legal cross-examination (as opposed to the perception of normal
conversation). However, the ability is scalar, therefore there exist preferences for certain
categories. My claim is that the tag questions are the most useful category, resulting from
their frequency in this particular trial and from the fact that they are in the middle of the above
devised scales. Of course, variation of questions for the examination so that it is not dull and
stereotypical is an obligation for the cross-examining prosecutor. However, when it comes to
certain important points in the interrogation, it is the tag questions that will most likely be
used.
Tag questions are the category which allows for a high degree of interrogation control
by means of their preferences they set as to the type of the answer and for a high degree of
conduciveness by means of their preference of particular answer that is expected. They are on
the lower scale of questionness and consequently their elicitative force is lower which

53

contributes to the conducive aspect in that the desired answer is less expected to be worded
explicitly, i.e. it is taken for granted. However, as opposed to questions with lexical tag and
declarative questions, the imposition is not perceived as conspicuous because the grammatical
tag shows the right amount of consideration for the partner in communication (rather than
opponent in communication) and is complicit with the Politeness Principle.
The prosecutor exploiting this category of questions manages to be impositive enough
in order to direct the witness to the evidence he/she wants to be discussed (in order to reject
his/her testimony, accuse him/her of something, point to inconsistencies in the witness
testimonies). At the same time, the prosecutor is polite enough (i.e. showing no contempt for
the witness, behaving in accordance with the general rules of inter-human conduct) in order
for the jury not to feel compassionate with the witness. On the contrary, the jury will
appreciate this kind of conduct on the part of the prosecutor. In seeking confirmation, the
prosecutor exploits the tension which is created by the answer-expectation on the part of the
jury (through conduciveness the answer is consciously/unconsciously formed in their minds)
and by the answer-realization on the part of the witness.

54

5. Conclusion
In this thesis I have analysed different types of questioning in the cross-examination in
the Shipman trial.
My analysis springs from the views of legal realism maintaining that in a trial the
presentation of facts is much more important than what happened in reality. The outcome of
a trial in the adversarial system depends heavily on how the facts are presented through
language: in the courtroom, a certain kind of mediated reality is being constructed and
negotiated. Persuasion becomes the crucial factor that can determine the outcome of a trial
and thus significantly affect peoples lives. In studying how persuasion is manifested in the
various questions forms that are exploited by the prosecutor, I want to draw attention to one of
the many features of language that can affect the interpretation of reality in a murder trial.
Employing the pragmatic approach, I have focused mainly on how the hearer
interprets the message, i.e. on how the speakers persuasive linguistic devices influence the
mind of the hearer. In the courtroom situation, there are more hearers to whom the message is
directed. There is a communication under way between the prosecutor and the witness. The
illocutionary force of this communication is, however, directed completely to the members of
the jury who have no right to intervene into the flow of the communication. The way how
they interpret its illocutionary force is reflected in their final decision of the case. I have come
to the conclusion that the crucial factor determining the acceptance of a version of facts is the
tension created by the different interpretations of the hearers, or rather by the contrast between
the expectation and its accomplishment, namely the contrast between what answer the
members of the jury (as the silent interlocutors) expect and what answer is actually produced
by the witness. This contrast is created by the use of the various persuasive devices and
evaluated on the basis of trustworthiness and credibility of two main participants in
communication, i.e. the prosecutor and the witness.
The situational context of the cross-examination significantly influences the chances
of these two interactants at success. The distribution of power is imbalanced: the prosecutor as
the one who has the most right to speak (next to the judge) is in an advantageous position as
he/she is in control over the topics of discussion. The prosecutor is entitled to ask questions,
the witness is obliged to answer them. Therefore, absolute lawyer control over the
interrogation is enabled by the use of question forms that elicit a minimal answer in the form
of agreement or disagreement, ideally a yes or no. In the legal terminology, these are called
leading questions and they are allowed for use by the evidentiary rules; during the direct
examination they are forbidden. Moreover, the evidentiary rules say that if a question during a
55

cross-examination calls for a yes or no answer, this answer can be enforced and any
qualification of the terms of the question may be stricken from the record and the jury are not
allowed to take it into consideration. One can see that the prosecutor when asking questions
(which are not in any way limited as to their length) can exploit many more persuasive
devices than the witness, who is only allowed a polar answer. This imbalance of power is, of
course, compensated for in other stages of examination, viz. direct or re-direct.
In my analysis of a cross-examination transcript I have shown that the majority of
questions asked by the prosecutor are leading, as other scholars have shown before. It would
actually be surprising if the prosecutor did not exploit his/her favourable position in this way.
However, these questions are not leading as the legal term would have it (i.e. suggesting the
response) but they are leading due to two question functions that are crucial for the persuasive
effect of the questions, i.e. through elicitative force and conduciveness.
The prosecutor exploits these functions, in that he/she transfers them from the general
use in human communication into a specific institutional situation, i.e. cross-examination. I
have shown that both functions are exploited to create a cooperative, confirmation-seeking
atmosphere (which is a general feature of casual conversation) which, in the specific context
of the cross-examination, where opposing, i.e. asymmetrical relations reside, make it very
difficult for the witness to procure his/her version of facts or even oppose the allegations that
are raised against him/her.
I claim that the category of questions that is most effective with regard to the outlined
goal of communication is the category of tag questions. In the analysis of my data, tag
questions are most frequent and have the greatest variety of meanings. In the general context
of conversation, tag questions are used for the sake of seeking confirmation, for the sake of
establishing symmetrical relations between the interlocutors. Their degree of elicitative force
is rather low in comparison to yes-no questions proper or wh-questions, which suggests that
agreement is to a certain degree taken for granted. This is supported by the fact, that the
reference clause of the tag question is in a declarative form, in which the speaker procures
his/her point of view. Therefore the degree of conduciveness is also greater in comparison to
yes-no questions and wh-questions. These two impositive features are, however, compensated
for (though not evenly) by the tag. The tag shows a consideration of the hearer and leaves the
opportunity to disagree, though disagreement occurs only seldom. Thus the tag question is
considerably more polite than a question with a lexical tag or a declarative question, which is
a face-saving factor that sustains the trustworthiness of the prosecutor, in that he/she is not
perceived as over-confident, impositive and arrogant by the members of the jury.
56

The tag question therefore allows the prosecutor to maintain his/her control of the
discussion, enables him/her to persuade the jury about the unreliability of the witness
testimony given on direct examination or even about the witness guilt (in the reference
clause). At the same time, it permits him/her not to lose face in wording these allegations and
to behave in accordance with the Cooperative Principle and the Politeness Principle (in the
tag).

57

6. Summary
This thesis investigates the use of questioning in the Shipman trial. It analyses
a cross-examination excerpt using a pragmatic approach and qualitative and quantitative
discourse analysis.
In the first chapter I introduce the subject of my thesis, my aims and objectives and the
material used.
In the second chapter theoretical insights into the nature of the legal language are
provided. I have looked into the history of the evolution of legalese as a distinct variety of the
English language. Recognizing four distinct discoursal situations within the legal discourse, I
particularly focus on the courtroom situation. I elaborate on the crucial stages of this
discourse, i.e. direct examination and cross-examination, and present their aims and objectives
and how the prosecutor can achieve them. These findings are summarized in the description
of the discourse tactic of the cross-examining prosecutor.
In the third chapter I investigate the theory of question definition and question
classification. Questions are classified from legal and linguistic perspectives and two question
functions that are crucial for the evaluation of the use of questions during
a cross-examination, i.e. elicitative force and conduciveness, are discussed.
In the fourth chapter the devised classification of questions is employed for my
analysis of the corpus. Looking into each category that is represented in the corpus I consider
the degree to which elicitative force and conduciveness are employed and how this reflects on
the interpretation of the illocutionary forces of each category. I devote most space to the
discussion of tag questions as they proved to be most frequent in my data, demonstrating great
variety of meanings.
In the concluding chapter my findings are summarized. I attach great significance to
the specific institutional context and how it influences the interpretation of messages when
employing structures that are common in everyday interpersonal interaction. I have come to
the conclusion that the transfer from the general to the specific context is exploited by the
lawyers to comply with their discourse tactic to the disadvantage of the witnesses. The
everyday structures used in the courtroom produce the same expectations as in the general
context of conversation, however, they produce completely distinct effects. In the general
context, symmetrical relations are striven to be established and this is used in the specific
context of courtroom, which is an arena of opposition, where asymmetrical relations persist.
This contrast is exploited by the prosecutor to persuade the jury about the version of facts that
is favourable to his/her case.
58

7. Shrnut
Tato diplomov prce zkoum typy kladen otzek pi soudnm len s
dr. Shipmanem. Analyzuje vatek z kovho vslechu, k emu vyuv kvantitativn a
kvalitativn analzy a pragmatickho pstupu.
V prvn kapitole uvdm pedmt vzkumu, cle, kter chci doshnout, a pedstavuji
pouit materil.
Ve druh kapitole se zabvm aspekty prvn anglitiny. Zkoumm historick vvoj
tohoto jazyka jako specifick od vvoje jazyka anglickho. V rmci tohoto diskurzu
rozeznvm tyi diskurzn situace a zamuji se zejmna na situaci soudn. Rozhodujc fze
tohoto kontextu jsou popsny hlavn vslech a vslech kov, spolu s jejich cly a
monostmi jejich uskutenn. Kapitolu uzavr popis diskurzn taktiky prokurtora
provdjcho kov vslech.
V kapitole tet se zabvm problmy definice tzn a klasifikac jednotlivch typ
otzek. Typy otzek jsou klasifikovny z pohledu prvnho a lingvistickho. Dle rozebrm
dv funkce tzn, kter jsou rozhodujc z hlediska posouzen uit rznch typ tzn pi
kovm vslechu. Tyto funkce jsou elicitativn sla a konducivnost.
Ve tvrt kapitole analyzuji zkouman korpus na zklad uveden klasifikace.
Zabvm se jednotliv kadm typem tzn, kter lze v korpusu vysledovat, zejmna mrou,
do jak se v nich projevuje elicitativn sla a konducivnost a jak ten se odr na interpretaci
ilokun sly kad kategorie. Vtina rozboru je vnovna pvsnm otzkm, protoe byly
nejastj a vykazovaly vznamnou variantnost vznam.
V zvren kapitole shrnuji sv zvry. Pikldm velk vznam specifickmu
institucionlnmu kontextu, kter vyuv struktury z bn mezilidsk komunikace a tak
ovlivuje jejich interpretaci. Pesun kontextu z obecn situace do specifick je vyuvn
prvnmi zstupci za elem dosaen jejich diskurznch cl. Struktury bn v konverzaci
produkuj v soudnm kontextu stejn oekvn, ale zrove dosahuj jinch vsledk. V
bn konverzaci lid usiluj o ustanoven symetrickch vztah, eho prvn zstupci
vyuvaj ve specifick soudn situaci, kde pevldaj protichdn, asymetrick vztahy.
elem je pesvdit porotu o verzi udlost, kter je pzniv pro uritho prvnho zstupce.

59

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Maley, Yon. "The Language of the Law." In Language and the Law, edited by John Gibbons.
London and New York: Longman, 1994.
Morrill, Alan E. Trial Diplomacy. Chicago: CPF, 1973.
Nsslin, Siv. The English Tag Question: A Study of Sentences Containing Tags of the Type
Isn't it?, Is it?. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1984.
Quirk, Randolph, and Sidney Greenbaum, and Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. A Grammar
of Contemporary English. London: Longman, 1972.

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Raymond, Geoffrey. Grammar and Social Organization: Yes/No Interrogatives and the
Structure of Responding. American Sociological Review, 68: 939-967, 2003.
Stenstrm, Anna-Brita. Questions and Responses in English Conversation. Malm: CWK
Gleerup, 1984.
Urbanov, Ludmila. On Expressing Meaning in English Conversation: Semantic
Indeterminacy. MU Brno, 2003.
Walker, Anne Graffam. Language at Work in the Law: The Customs, Conventions, and
Appellate Consequences of Court Reporting. In Language in the Judicial Process. Eds.
Judith N. Levi and Anne Graffam Walker. New York: Plenum Press, 1990. 203-244
Internet Sources:
Transcript for Trial Day 35. The Shipman Inquiry. 10 July 04
<http://www.the-shipman-inquiry.org.uk/trialday.asp?day=35>
Background to the Inquiry. The Shipman Inquiry. 26 June 06
<http://www.the-shipman-inquiry.org.uk/backgroundinfo.asp>
Dr. Harold Shipman. Most Notorious Serial Killers. 26 June 06
<http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/notorious/shipman/dead_1.html>

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9. Appendix
9.1 Categorization of Questions in the Shipman Trial
Y/N questions proper
1. Did you see Ivy Lomas walk into your surgery on Market Street, Hyde, on the 29th May 1997?
2. Do you accept that when you gave your evidence you said that she was walking into the surgery, "I
recall seeing her that day. She was walking into the surgery?"
3. Did you see any difficulty in her getting up and going into your consulting room?
4. Would you explain please now the document which is at page 822 in our bundle, Mrs. Lomas divider?
5. is the next word "try?"
6. Is the next word "continuous?"
7. Do you say that the time of Ivy Lomas's death was 16.45?
8. Had you ever started it?
9. Do you accept any blame for the death of Ivy Lomas?
10. Do you disagree with Dr. Grenville when he says this was an emergency?
11. Do you remember when you were holding forth about the death of Nora Nuttall there were two ladies in
your waiting area and you with your arms aloft told them how you knew this would happen, "I've been
saying for a long time that this would happen?"
12. Do you remember her?
13. Is it ever right for a doctor to tell untruths to his employees within his surgery?
14. Is it ever right for a doctor to tell untruths to his employees within his surgery?
15. And could you not have simply drawn Carol Chapman a few feet away and whispered something
quietly to her or even taken her along to the examination room?
16. Can you see that?
17. Will you look immediately above that on the wall?
18. Were you at fault in not calling an ambulance at that stage?
19. Were you at fault in not calling assistance in the resuscitation process?
20. Do you agree?
21. Now that question about the airway you say you put in, do you remember Police Constable Reade
attending?
22. Was there an implication that I had unfairly demoted him in your tone there?
23. Do you remember?
24. And do you remember what Sergeant Reade's response to that was?
25. Do you need to know what an airway is to see whether or not a tube is going into the mouth?
26. Are you suggesting that there was a tube to be seen going into the mouth?
27. Are you saying it was not your case that there was a tube going into her mouth?
28. Did you contemplate at all an adrenaline injection?
29. Would it be a matter that you should have considered?
30. Was there anything to be lost by giving her an adrenaline injection?
31. Was she suffering when you first saw her in your consulting room any apparent effects of diamorphine
poisoning?
32. Was she able to walk along the corridor to your examination room?
33. Can you think of any other explanation other than your guilt?
34. Will you please now answer the question. Can you think of any other sensible explanation other than
your guilt?
35. Did anybody else have the opportunity of administering diamorphine to Ivy Lomas?
36. Did Ivy Lomas administer diamorphine to herself in your presence?
37. Do I take it you disagree with it?
38. Have you ever done it before, just leaving somebody for dead?
39. Do you remember that?
40. Do you remember what Professor McQuay said about the time it takes for somebody to die if they have
received an overdose of diamorphine?
41. He said 5 minutes. Isn't that why you went to attend to other patients, leaving Ivy Lomas in the rear
examination room?
42. Can you think of any other good reason for leaving her there, or bad reason for that matter?
43. Can you think of any other reason for leaving Ivy Lomas unattended, your staff uninformed, other than
that you were waiting to make sure she had actually died?
44. Do you agree and stand by what you said last week?
45. Is Carol Chapman wrong about that?

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46. Will you please answer my question?


47. There is no question about me presenting it to you at this moment. That was the evidence that Carol
Chapman herself presented to the Court when she was giving evidence in relation to Ivy Lomas's case.
Do you understand?
48. And so I'm not presenting the evidence to you, that was evidence given on oath by Carol Chapman. Do
you dispute that she gave that evidence?
49. Is she completely wrong?
50. Do you remember his evidence?
51. Does not that occur to you as a real possibility?
52. On a matter as important as that do you take issue with Sergeant Reade?
53. Well, has Sergeant Reade got it entirely wrong?
54. Has Carol Dalpiaz got it wrong in exactly the same way that Sergeant Reade has got it wrong?
55. Did you say that you took her mother to the examination room whilst you saw her other patients?
56. Did you tell Mrs. Dalpiaz that you took Mrs. Lomas to the examination room whilst you saw other
patients?
57. Did you tell her you saw other patients whilst Ivy Lomas was in the examination room alive?
58. Did you say you had gone back to Ivy Lomas and she was blue around the mouth?
59. Do you still deny telling Sergeant Reade that Ivy Lomas was a nuisance?
60. Did you laugh in the presence of Sergeant Reade?
61. Did you laugh in Sergeant Reade's presence?
62. Did you make a joke in Sergeant Reade's presence?
63. Had you any sadness?
64. Had you any sadness?
65. Are doctors deprived of human emotion?
66. Do you remember her saying that?
67. Would you look at page 824?
68. And would you please look at the last entry on that, 1991, does that say IHD?
69. No. Nor for 1992, nor any time between 1986 and 1993. Is that correct?
70. Is that a photocopy of the Lloyd George card beginning September 78 going through to the 14th
December 1979?
71. And would you look at a letter addressed to you dated 12th June 1978?
72. Is that a letter sent to you by a consultant physician, Murtaza Husaini?
73. Could you assist us please by translating that?
74. Would you have a look at the document I have handed to you at the same time, page 831 A. Do you
have that?
75. The physician's report. Can you see there 3 quarters of the way down that page her ECG is satisfactory?
76. Would you help me by pointing to them? Between 847 and 857 we can see the patient history
77. Sorry, will you just direct--78. I'm sorry, is this justifying ischaemic heart disease back in 1991?
79. Did Ivy Lomas attend your surgery between 1986 and 1993?
80. Can you see looking through the records?
Alternative questions
1. Do you agree or disagree with what Carol Chapman said, "She had no difficulty getting up and was
very quick getting in?"
2. But which do you take first, pulse or blood pressure?
3. Would you answer the question, which do you take first, pulse or blood pressure?
4. The next word down there was either "chesty" or "clinically?"
5. When you admitted your next patient to your room was Ivy Lomas dead or alive?
6. Do you agree or disagree?
7. Dr. Grenville's evidence, and tell me whether you agree or disagree, was that two would obviously be
better than one?
8. Well, was Sergeant Reade right or wrong about that?
9. No, that is not what you said in evidence last week. You said in your evidence-in-chief, being taken
through it by your own counsel, that you had put her on the ECG machine but you thought it was not
working, you couldn't get a reading and you thought she had died. Now that is quite different from what
you have just said then. Which is the truth?
10. Do you agree or disagree with Sergeant Reade in relation to that statement?
11. Do you think it is more likely, that that disclosure would make it more likely that the coroner would be
informed or less likely?

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12. Is that in your handwriting or not, the second entry?

Wh-questions
1. Where is that recorded, her pulse and her blood pressure?
2. Why is it not in the records?
3. Why is there no entry on the computer?
4. Why are neither recorded?
5. Would you now explain why on that Lloyd George card you have recorded the time of death as 14.45?
6. I want to ask you what time Ivy Lomas in fact died?
7. That is not the question. I asked you at what time did Ivy Lomas die?
8. What time did you admit the next patient to your room?
9. What time did your next patient enter your room?
10. If that be so, why and how on page 822 can you write either 14.45 or 16.45 as the time of death?
11. Why didn't you write that you had certified her dead, if indeed you had certified her dead, at 16.45 but
she had died at 16.10?
12. What do you mean by you certified her dead?
13. Sorry, what is the magic in the word "certified?"
14. If Mrs. Lomas was grey and sweaty with irregular pulse, complaining of a chest pain, why walk her all
the way along the corridor?
15. What is the point of trying to find out whether or not there is some irregularity in the heart beat when
you know already that there is an irregular heart rate?
16. Well let me ask it again. Dr. Grenville's suggestion was that an ECG was not appropriate because you
already knew this lady had an irregular heart rate. Why then did you go ahead and have, and take or
purport to take an ECG reading?
17. Well?
18. Well, will you explain why you said to Carol Chapman that you were having trouble with the ECG, "I
spoke with Carol Chapman and indicated a problem with the ECG?"
19. Why does that mean it must be the consulting room?
20. Why should you lie to your staff?
21. What do you see there?
22. And since it would have been useful on that occasion can you explain why it is that you did not then
summons an ambulance which would have brought with it a defibrillator?
23. Can you explain why it was being put on your behalf to Police Constable Reade that Ivy Lomas had a
tube going into her mouth?
24. Well, why then was the question being put that she had a tube going into her mouth if not on your
instructions?
25. Well, why do you say you cannot remember whether you considered it?
26. Well, why didn't she have one?
27. And what would you then say that in fact the cause of death was in Ivy Lomas's case?
28. Where could she have got the diamorphine from?
29. How then did Ivy Lomas get that diamorphine into her system?
30. Why did you simply leave Ivy Lomas unattended whilst you went to attend to other patients?
31. How could you know they were only going to be quickies?
32. If you say there was a point why didn't you?
33. Why didn't you say that last week?
34. What do you think would have happened if you had told an officer of the law that your ECG machine
wasn't working and she had died in your presence?
35. What was the joke? What was funny about this?
36. If you were sad why were you joking with Sergeant Reade?
37. What is there in 1991, page 847, that permits you to write on this Lloyd George summary card
"Ischaemic heart disease?"
38. And if we look at the Lloyd George cards, and by all means do so if you wish, but there is absolutely no
entry on those Lloyd George cards in 1991 whatsoever. By all means look at them and explain how you
could come to write on the Lloyd George cards 1991, "Ischaemic heart disease?"
39. You say that. Why should it be ECG?
40. What about electro convulsive therapy?
41. Which entries are you now pointing to?
42. And can you tell us how from the 8th of the 3rd 96 you are able to divine in 1991 ischaemic heart
disease?

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43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.
52.

But how could that represent ischaemic heart disease 1991?


What does "Due to stress mean?"
How can it be due to stress and back to due to ischaemic heart disease 5 years earlier?
Where did you get in 1990 the ability to put depression on there?
But when you are making this document where would you get that information from?
If you were able to talk about erecting plaques in the waiting area why were you not able to proceed and
complete the computer record details of Ivy Lomas?
What time is the computer switched off?
Why did you make two separate entries?
You had taken this lady's pulse and you had taken this lady's blood pressure. Why was that not
recorded?
Why is it recorded nowhere?

Declarative questions
1. You did not see her then enter the surgery, you saw her for the first time in your surgery entering your
consulting room?
2. You described her in your evidence as looking grey and sweaty and unwell?
3. You told us that you checked her pulse and her blood pressure?
4. You had your computer switched on?
5. You have no pattern as a general practitioner?
6. All the more reason to make an entry?
7. And the computer was the place where you would have made an entry if you had made one?
8. And so by 16.10 and 57 seconds Ivy Lomas had died?
9. You knew she was dead at 16.10?
10. If she was grey and sweaty with an irregular pulse and very low blood pressure, surely you should have
required her to lie down at the nearest possible place?
11. Prior to her taking her stockings off?
12. Prior to any lead from the ECG machine being attached to her?
13. So it is an obvious statement that no ECG lead had yet been applied?
14. From the relatives?
15. You never predicted that that would happen?
16. No you didn't, you told her a bare faced lie?
17. You have got photograph 20 in front of you?
18. That is the bed or couch on to which you say Mrs. Lomas collapsed?
19. And there is a chair to the right of it as we look at it?
20. And that phone would permit you to speak directly to the desk, to the reception desk?
21. But that was what was put to him, that she had a tube in the singular going into her mouth?
22. This is not a case where you decided that she would be better off dead?
23. Some 9 times the minimum amount found in Soren Phelby's report?
24. Or inaccurate?
25. Continuously with her. We can see when you were first with her because that is shown on the computer
screen. If you pull out the A3 schedule, 15.57 and 16 seconds, "Seen in GP's surgery. Dr. H. F.
Shipman." That is not a backdated entry. And so that indicates that at 3.57 you were in the presence of
Ivy Lomas?
26. Save and except for your guilt?
27. Other than your guilt?
28. And when she was taken away to hospital she would have been the patient of the doctor at the accident
and emergency department of presumably Tameside General Hospital?
29. The reason for no ambulance was perfectly simple, you would no longer be able to control what had
happened?
30. And you went on and treated 3 patients?
31. No, that you said this to Carol Chapman. You said to Carol Chapman, "I put Ivy Lomas on the ECG
machine but I thought it wasn't working. I couldn't get a reading and I thought she had died?"
32. Yes, that's untrue?
33. When you saw her after you had seen the 3 patients?
34. And then after seeing your 3 patients you said that she had, referring to Ivy Lomas, that she had flat
lined?
35. She it was who said in terms that you had told her that there was a flat line trace in relation to Ivy
Lomas?

65

36. Reading from our note, "He told me that he put Ivy Lomas on the ECG machine but he thought it wasn't
working. He couldn't get a reading and thought she had died. He was always calm, never got worked
up, to keep us calm I think. He thought the machine was broke and realised she had died. He said he
had put her on the ECG machine. He said she flat lined. He tried to resuscitate her with no response."
That was her evidence?
37. Because his evidence is that you treated Ivy Lomas for bronchial problems?
38. That you had treated Ivy Lomas for bronchial problems?
39. But let us just understand the difference between his version and your present version. His version of
what you told him is that you were absent for a considerable period of time treating those 3 patients and
you told him that on your return you found her dead?
40. Standing for ischaemic heart disease?
41. Well--42. . Dr. Shipman, there should be two loose sheets there. Before anything is distributed to the jury, you see
a page with the number 831 on it?
43. "On examination?"
44. Now again dated some 4 months prior to the query for EC that we have looked at?
45. All this 11 months, sorry, 11 years prior to your completion of the card which appears at page 824 in
our bundle?
46. Page in our bundle?
47. Page 852?
48. That is one. "Myalgia?"
49. And "Shoulders, movelat," is that?
50. So you have prescribed some cream for aching shoulders?
51. In March 1996, and you are using that to diagnosis ischaemic heart disease 5 years earlier?
52. She had pain in her shoulders in March 96 and neck pain due to stress in December 1996 and that
equals ischaemic heart disease in 1991?
53. Yes, got the Lloyd George cards here?
54. You remained in the surgery for sometime thereafter talking, for example, to Constable Reade as he
then was?
55. And so you made the entries and backdated them?
56. In your case no?
57. You said this before the break, "I didn't challenge the toxicology because I'm not skilled in that area?"

Questions with lexical tag


1.
I'm going to suggest to you that even before Ivy Lomas went down that corridor on your version of the
facts this was a case for an ambulance?
2.
I'm going to suggest if there is any truth at all in this version that you have given about Mrs. Lomas's
collapse, that the obvious simple and straightforward thing to have done would have been to pick that
telephone up and speak to them at reception telling them, "Call an ambulance immediately?"
3.
You say the then PC Phillip Reade?
4.
I'm going to suggest to you to leave a deceased person without any attempt to contact the next of kin is
a disgraceful way to behave when you could have done so by a simple word of mouth to Carol
Chapman?
5.
I'm asking you if in circumstances such as these you have just left somebody for dead?
6.
You had never tried to get a recording on the ECG machine you have told us?
7.
I am going suggest to you that as a doctor it is absolutely second nature when you take a blood pressure
to write it down?
8.
But you went on, you say, to take the blood pressure?
9.
I'm sorry, you found her dead, you mean 14.45, yes, but you are saying 14.45 is a mistake and it should
be 16.45.
10. That is your defence, if I have understood it, to the criticism that that time is completely wrong?
11. You say you took her down the corridor and you asked her to take her stockings off but according to
you you looked round and she had collapsed?
12. First of all, you told Carol Chapman a deliberate lie, is that right?
13. Secondly, you justify that by speaking about patient confidentiality, is that right?
14. And so the evidence from Anthony Nuttall's aunt that you were holding forth about the death of Nora
Nuttall is something you disagree with, is that right?
15. That is the bed or couch on to which you say Mrs. Lomas collapsed?

66

16.
17.
18.
19.

Dr. Grenville's evidence, you heard it, he explained that resuscitation depends to a considerable degree
on the staying capacity of the person attempting resuscitation.
You say the then PC Phillip Reade?
You agree, I take it, that you had the opportunity of administering diamorphine to Ivy Lomas?
You agree you could have picked the phone up?

Tag questions
1. Ivy Lomas was 63 years of age on the 29th May 1997 when she visited your surgery, was she not?
2. That is the true description of Ivy Lomas, is it not?
3. You are deliberately attributing to her greyness, sweatiness and being unwell to explain her death which
followed shortly afterwards, aren't you?
4. Having taken the pulse you would need some way of making a record of that pulse, wouldn't you?
5. The obvious place is the computer, isn't it?
6. There was nothing, was there, of a confidential nature here requiring you to make an entry on a Lloyd
George card, was there?
7. That is not what the record says, is it?
8. Look at page 918 A will you, the last document before the schedule.
9. But time and time and time again you have written down the time of death, haven't you?
10. You had abandoned her as dead at 16.10, hadn't you?
11. The document we have been looking at, page 822, is a completely false document made up to explain
away the fact you had made no proper entry on your computer, isn't it?
12. By asking whether that was a question you are simply buying time to respond, aren't you?
13. You were not dealing with it quickly, were you?
14. And so the question of whether or not the ECG machine was functioning or malfunctioning did not
arise, did it?
15. You disagree with that evidence do you?
16. Well, it could hardly have taken place with two females present, could it, in your consulting room?
17. If there were 2 females present it could not be the consulting room, could it?
18. That was all that was needed, wasn't it?
19. That was a bare faced lie, wasn't it, to a trusted employee?
20. But you had no problem with the ECG machine, did you?
21. And having said those words they were untrue because you had had no problem with the ECG, had
you?
22. But you were indicating to her that you had, weren't you?
23. And that was untrue, wasn't it?
24. Let's go to the bundle of photographs shall we.
25. That telephone there is an internal phone which permits you to speak to somebody on the reception
desk, doesn't it?
26. And that would permit you to call an ambulance, wouldn't it?
27. This was as obvious a case for summoning an ambulance, albeit later than you should have done, as
there could possibly be, is it not?
28. Your story as to what happened in that examination room is patently untrue, is it not?
29. If that lady had collapsed she would have gone directly to the ground and not onto the bed, wouldn't
she?
30. If she had collapsed her knees would have buckled and she would have gone to the ground, wouldn't
she?
31. You had a major problem, according to you and your version of the facts, didn't you, upon her collapse?
32. You had a major problem, didn't you?
33. If you were not going to call an ambulance the obvious thing was to call Mrs. Chapman to help you
with first aid, wasn't it?
34. Well, you could, if you wished to, do it properly, couldn't you?
35. Carol Chapman to the best of your knowledge and belief was capable of resuscitating, was she not?
36. But what is much better still is a defibrillator, is it not?
37. Now you contend do you that you used all your best efforts to revive Ivy Lomas?
38. I'm going to suggest there is a very good and plain reason why she didn't have one, because you had
administered to her a vast dose of diamorphine, hadn't you?
39. You recollect the evidence of the toxicologist, don't you, that she had 9 micrograms or .9 micrograms of
morphine per gram of thigh tissue?

67

40. The fact of the matter is that that lady did not die of a heart attack at all but she died of morphine
toxicity, didn't she?
41. But the toxicological findings of Mrs. Evans, the .9 micrograms of morphine, that is not the subject of
any challenge by you is it?
42. It wasn't suggested to Mrs. Evans that that reading in itself was unreliable, was it?
43. We have to say it, don't we, and then we have to ask don't we, how could Ivy Lomas have taken a
massive dose of morphine or diamorphine, how could that have occurred in her case?
44. But it does not work, does it, in Ivy Lomas's case? Where could she have got the diamorphine from?
45. You remember Professor McQuay's evidence, don't you, that the effects of a fatal dose of diamorphine
would be seen within a 5 minute window?
46. Well, if this lady died at 10 minutes past 4 she must have been administered or administered to herself
diamorphine between certainly 4 o'clock and 10 past 4, mustn't she?
47. You were with Ivy Lomas throughout all that time, weren't you?
48. And you say to us here and now, do you, that you were continuously in her presence up to the moment
that she collapsed and died?
49. Dr. Shipman, there is simply no sensible explanation, is there?
50. Dr. Shipman, there is no sensible explanation, is there?
51. She could not possibly have done so, could she?
52. That leaves only one possibility, doesn't it?
53. It is right isn't it?
54. It is worse than unprofessional, isn't it, just to leave somebody for dead in a back room?
55. You had had no time to read the Lloyd George cards, had you?
56. This was just bluster on your part, wasn't it, to try to explain away why you had not attended to Ivy
Lomas?
57. You had a major problem, hadn't you, with Ivy Lomas?
58. She died and her body had a substantial amount of morphine in it, that was the problem wasn't it?
59. If an ambulance had been sent to your surgery Ivy Lomas would have been taken away to hospital,
wouldn't she?
60. And when it came to whether or not a death certificate was to be signed and whether the coroner was to
be informed, it would be that person's decision and not yours, wouldn't it?
61. That would take Ivy Lomas out of your control, wouldn't it?
62. That was why no ambulance was ever summoned by you in these cases, isn't it?
63. Of course there was never any point in summoning an ambulance in Ivy Lomas's case, was there?
64. You left Ivy Lomas there in the back room, didn't you?
65. You told Mrs. Ward not to go to Irene Turner for 5 minutes, didn't you?
66. You were waiting for her to be sure that she had died, weren't you?
67. As you looked at the Royal Doulton in Lizzie Adams' case you were waiting for her to die, weren't you?
68. As Mrs. Hadfield heard that silence in Mrs. West's case, you were waiting for her to die, weren't you?
69. And here in Ivy Lomas's case as you attended these 3 quickies, as you put it, Ivy Lomas was for certain
sure dying, wasn't she?
70. You are again telling an untruth to Carol Chapman,, aren't you?
71. But that is untrue, isn't it?
72. You never put her on the ECG machine, did you?
73. And to say that you thought it wasn't working was a long way from the truth when you were talking to
Carol Chapman, wasn't it?
74. Now look, the plain truth of the matter is that you were telling Carol Chapman that your ECG machine
wasn't working, weren't you?
75. You have been caught out, haven't you, because you were continuing your lie to Carol Chapman weren't
you?
76. You made it plain, did you not, to Carol Chapman that the ECG machine was not in working condition?
77. Carol Chapman has every reason to remember vividly what occurred that afternoon, has she not?
78. Well, it is a dramatic event, seeing a lady walking into a surgery at 3 minutes before 4 o'clock and her
being dead in the examination room at 10 minutes past 4, isn't it?
79. And then you told her the ECG machine was not working, didn't you, before seeing your 3 patients?
80. So you very much take issue, do you, with Carol Chapman's version of the facts there?
81. Of course there was the nothing on any computer or on any Lloyd George record to contradict that at
that time, was there?
82. That is what you told Sergeant Reade that day, isn't it, that you had treated Ivy Lomas for bronchial
problems?

68

83. And you said to Sergeant Reid that you had showed her to the treatment room so that she could rest,
didn't you?
84. And you said to Sergeant Reade, didn't you, that you, "...continued to treat other patients and on his
return he found her dead?"
85. From your point of view it was an anxious matter having an officer of the law in your surgery so soon
after Ivy Lomas's death, wasn't it?
86. You completely disagree that as well, don't you?
87. And the reason that you are disagreeing with Sergeant Reade's evidence is this, isn't it, that you had to
give to him the version of facts that would most certainly avoid a postmortem?
88. If he knows or if he has been told there may been a mechanical breakdown in the ECG machine, he is
likely to inform the coroner isn't he?
89. That is why you were giving different versions to Carol Chapman and to Sergeant Reade, isn't it?
90. You also said this didn't you to Sergeant Reade, "This lady was beyond resuscitation, she was dead?"
91. You didn't put it that way to him, you put it that she was beyond resuscitation, she had been resting and
died in your absence and by the time you got to her she was dead? That's right isn't it?
92. Not just the resuscitation is it?
93. Carol Dalpiaz, Mrs. Lomas's daughter, you saw her that evening, didn't you, at about 10 o'clock?
94. You see quite independently you have told Police Constable Reade and Carol Dalpiaz that you found
Ivy Lomas dead, haven't you?
95. That is the truth, isn't it, you told Constable Reade that she was a nuisance?
96. That's right, isn't it?
97. You had seen a lot of Ivy Lomas hadn't you?
98. And Ivy Lomas had died very suddenly in your surgery, hadn't she?
99. Now this is another case, isn't it, as with the Pomfret family and the Mellor family, that Carol Dalpiaz
had no knowledge of any heart problems.
100. There is nothing, is there, on the Lloyd George cards relating to 1991?
101. Well, that is 1978, is it not?
102. Let me understand this, you are saying are you that 1978 is an indication that she had ischaemic heart
disease?
103. There is nothing there relevant to ECG either, is there?
104. You had absolutely no evidence at all other than this, had you, to justify IHD going on that card?
105. Come on. This is a fantastic proposition, isn't it, quite fantastic.
106. What you have done is to make a late entry on the Lloyd George card trying to show that Ivy Lomas
had a heart attack, that's what you have been doing isn't it?
107. Save for that in 1959 there is absolutely nothing to indicate at or about 1990 that this lady suffered from
depression, is there?
108. There is one here, 1971 depressive illness, but between 199 - you see somewhere you have got the
information or you should have got the information to put on the Lloyd George cards the word
"depression," shouldn't you?
109. And the fact of the matter is that those two were late entries put on together at the same time and they
are false misleading entries, aren't they?
110. Yes. You were anxious, weren't you, to explain away the death of Ivy Lomas?
111. You were in the surgery when Ivy Lomas died, were you not?
112. And you had an abundance of time on the 29th May to make the appropriate computer entry in relation
to Ivy Lomas's death, hadn't you?
113. And that would give you, wouldn't it, between 10 past 4 and 6 o'clock to make the appropriate entry in
Ivy Lomas's case?
114. "Chest pain. Lots of problems at home. Clinically coronary thrombosis." And then, "On examination
dead." Now you were continuously with Ivy Lomas, weren't you?
115. Done automatically, that's right isn't it?
116. Ivy Lomas, she died, didn't she, of diamorphine poisoning in your surgery?
117. You have had available to you the necessary skills and expertise of others, haven't you?

69

9.2 Transcript for Trial Day 35: The Cross-Examination of Dr. Shipman on the Death of
Ivy Lomas
Trial day 35
HAROLD
FREDERICK
SHIPMAN, recalled
Cross-examined by
MR. HENRIQUES
Tuesday, 7th
December, 1999
HAROLD
FREDERICK
SHIPMAN, recalled
Cross-examined by
MR. HENRIQUES
Q. Dr. Shipman, we
will proceed to Ivy
Lomas's case, still
jury bundle 1. Ivy
Lomas was 63 years
of age on the 29th
May 1997 when she
visited your surgery,
was she not?
A. Yes.
Q. Your evidence, "I
was working that
day. I recall seeing
her that day. She was
walking into the
surgery sometime
before 4 pm, about 5
to 4." Did you see
Ivy Lomas walk into
your surgery on
Market Street, Hyde,
on the 29th May
1997?
A. No, I saw her
walk into my
consulting room.
Q. Do you accept
that when you gave
your evidence you
said that she was
walking into the
surgery, "I recall
seeing her that day.
She was walking into
the surgery?"
A. I cannot
remember saying
that.

A. No, I don't
disagree with that.

Q. You did not see


her then enter the
surgery, you saw her
for the first time in
your surgery entering
your consulting
room?
A. I believe I did.

Q. You told us that


you checked her
pulse and her blood
pressure?
A. Yes.

Q. You described her


in your evidence as
looking grey and
sweaty and unwell?
A. Yes.

Q. Where is that
recorded, her pulse
and her blood
pressure?
A. If it is not in the
records I don't know
where it is recorded.

Q. That I suggest is
not the truth. The
truth was spoken by
Carol Chapman,
"She was quiet and
pale but normal. She
was all right." That is
the true description
of Ivy Lomas, is it
not?
A. It is not.

Q. Take it from me it
is not in the records.
Why is it not in the
records?
A. Because I was too
busy getting her
down to the
treatment room to do
an ECG to record it.

Q. "Quiet, pale
normal. She was all
right." You are
deliberately
attributing to her
greyness, sweatiness
and being unwell to
explain her death
which followed
shortly afterwards,
aren't you?
A. I am not.

Q. You had your


computer switched
on?
A. It still takes time
to enter it.
Q. But which do you
take first, pulse or
blood pressure?
A. History.
Q. Would you
answer the question,
which do you take
first, pulse or blood
pressure?
A. Sometimes it's the
pulse and sometimes
it's the blood
pressure.

Q. Did you see any


difficulty in her
getting up and going
into your consulting
room?
A. I saw no difficulty
with her walking into
my consulting room.
Q. Do you agree or
disagree with what
Carol Chapman said,
"She had no
difficulty getting up
and was very quick
getting in?"

Q. You have no
pattern as a general
practitioner?
A. Not that I can
think of relating to
the area you are

70

talking of.
Q. Let's assume you
take the pulse first.
Having taken the
pulse you would
need some way of
making a record of
that pulse, wouldn't
you?
A. Yes.
Q. The obvious place
is the computer, isn't
it?
A. It is.
Q. Why is there no
entry on the
computer?
A. Because the pulse
was abnormally slow
for her.
Q. All the more
reason to make an
entry?
A. And she looked
unwell.
Q. But you went on,
you say, to take the
blood pressure?
A. Yes.
Q. Why are neither
recorded?
A. Because I was
busy with her
afterwards.
Q. There was
nothing, was there,
of a confidential
nature here requiring
you to make an entry
on a Lloyd George
card, was there?
A. Not that I can
think of it.
Q. And the computer
was the place where
you would have
made an entry if you
had made one?

A. Normally yes.
Q. Would you
explain please now
the document which
is at page 822 in our
bundle, Mrs. Lomas
divider?
A. Sorry, did you say
822?

Q. 822. Go right to
the back of Mrs.
Lomas's.
MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: It should
be 5 pages in from
the A3 schedule,
Doctor?
A. Found it. Thank
you.
MR. HENRIQUES:
We will just run
quickly through this.
"5 days, son
returned. Central
chest pain, arms on
and off and some," is
the next word "try?"
A. Next word is
"today".

smoking 4 years."
Would you now
explain why on that
Lloyd George card
you have recorded
the time of death as
14.45?
A. Because I was
using the 24 hour
clock and it should
be obviously 4.45
which is 16.45.

Q. When you
admitted your next
patient to your room
was Ivy Lomas dead
or alive?
A. She was dead.

Q. Do you say that


the time of Ivy
Lomas's death was
16.45?
A. If you are saying
that it is 4.45 that I,
sorry, at 16.45 I
confirmed that Mrs.
Lomas had died.

Q. What time did


you admit the next
patient to your room?
A. The computer
says 12 minutes past
4.

Q. That is not what


the record says, is it?
A. Well, I, according
to the record I
actually found her
dead before she came
into surgery.

Q. "Feels sick and


dizzy. 100 over 70,
64 per minute,
irregular, grey." The
next word down
there was either
"chesty" or
"clinically?"
A. "Clinically."

Q. That - I'm sorry,


you found her dead,
you mean 14.45, yes,
but you are saying
14.45 is a mistake
and it should be
16.45. That is your
defence, if I have
understood it, to the
criticism that that
time is completely
wrong?
A. I haven't
disagreed the time is
completely wrong. I
think I have
explained it quite
clearly that it should
have been 16.45.

Q. "Clinically, CT
(coronary
thrombosis). 14.45,
died. Family phoned.
Coronary thrombosis
4 hours, ischaemic
heart disease 5 years,
chronic obstructive
airways disease 10,

Q. Your explanation
is that Ivy Lomas
died at 16.45 and that
is one digit in error. I
want to ask you what
time Ivy Lomas in
fact died?
A. I certified her as
dead as 4.45.

Q. Today thank you.


"Today 4.25 hours."
Is the next word
"continuous?"
A. It is.

Q. That is not the


question. I asked you
at what time did Ivy
Lomas die?
A. Sometime
between when she
arrived and at 14.45,
16.45.

Q. You had better


look. It is not fair
that you should have
your memory tested.
Look at page 918 A
will you, the last
document before the
schedule. What time
did your next patient
enter your room?
A. It would be 16.10
and 57 seconds.
Q. And so by 16.10
and 57 seconds Ivy
Lomas had died?
A. Yes.
Q. If that be so, why
and how on page 822
can you write either
14.45 or 16.45 as the
time of death?
A. I certified her
dead at 16.45, she
died about 10 past 4.
There is a difference.
Q. Yes. Why didn't
you write that you
had certified her
dead, if indeed you
had certified her
dead, at 16.45 but
she had died at
16.10?

71

A. I usually put
down the figure
when I certify death.
Q. But time and time
and time again you
have written down
the time of death,
haven't you?
A. Yes.
Q. Not the time you
certified but the time
of death. What do
you mean by you
certified her dead?
A. I saw her after a
period of death and
certified that she was
dead.
Q. Sorry, what is the
magic in the word
"certified?"
A. There is no magic
in it.
Q. You knew she
was dead at 16.10?
A. Yes.
Q. You had
abandoned her as
dead at 16.10, hadn't
you?
A. I had stopped
resuscitation, yes.
Q. Had you ever
started it?
A. Yes.
Q. The document we
have been looking at,
page 822, is a
completely false
document made up to
explain away the fact
you had made no
proper entry on your
computer, isn't it?
A. That is absolutely
wrong.
Q. If Mrs. Lomas
was grey and sweaty
with irregular pulse,
complaining of a
chest pain, why walk
her all the way along

the corridor?
A. I'm sorry, I was
waiting for you to
finish. I was going to
perform an ECG on
her.

Q. If she was grey


and sweaty with an
irregular pulse and
very low blood
pressure, surely you
should have required
her to lie down at the
nearest possible
place?
A. She had walked
into surgery
indicating that
whatever was
happening to her
wasn't that serious
that it kept her from
walking.
Q. Can I ask you to
comment on what
Dr. Grenville said
about your conduct.
He said this, "An
ECG was not
appropriate. The note
has recorded low
blood pressure and
irregular heart rate.
This is an emergency
and clinically a
coronary
thrombosis." Break
that down. "An ECG
was not appropriate,"
said Dr. Grenville.
Do you agree or
disagree?
A. I disagree with
him.
Q. What is the point
of trying to find out
whether or not there
is some irregularity
in the heart beat
when you know
already that there is
an irregular heart
rate?
A. Are you asking
why I took the
patient down to do an

Lomas went down


that corridor on your
version of the facts
this was a case for an
ambulance?
A. You can suggest
what you wish but I
did not make that
decision at that time.

ECG?
Q. That was a plain
question and you
heard it. By asking
whether that was a
question you are
simply buying time
to respond, aren't
you?
A. I'm not. I didn't
understand your
question.

Q. You say you took


her down the
corridor and you
asked her to take her
stockings off but
according to you you
looked round and she
had collapsed?
A. She was
attempting to get
onto the couch and
she collapsed.

Q. Well let me ask it


again. Dr. Grenville's
suggestion was that
an ECG was not
appropriate because
you already knew
this lady had an
irregular heart rate.
Why then did you go
ahead and have, and
take or purport to
take an ECG
reading?
A. I tried to get an
ECG reading because
I wanted to send a
copy of the ECG
reading off to the
hospital and if
possible have her
admitted to coronary
care rather than to
casualty.

Q. Prior to her taking


her stockings off?
A. I asked her to take
them off as she
started to climb onto
the bed, yes.
Q. The answer was
yes. Prior to any lead
from the ECG
machine being
attached to her?
A. That's an obvious
statement.

Q. Do you accept
any blame for the
death of Ivy Lomas?
A. On the day no.

Q. Well?
A. And it is true. I
mean why attach the
leads before she has
actually got onto the
bed.

Q. Do you disagree
with Dr. Grenville
when he says this
was an emergency?
A. This needed to be
dealt with quickly.

Q. So it is an obvious
statement that no
ECG lead had yet
been applied?
A. That's correct.

Q. You were not


dealing with it
quickly, were you?
A. As quickly as I
thought it needed to
be dealt with, yes.

Q. And so the
question of whether
or not the ECG
machine was
functioning or
malfunctioning did
not arise, did it?
A. No it didn't.

Q. I'm going to
suggest to you that
even before Ivy

72

Q. Well, will you


explain why you said
to Carol Chapman
that you were having
trouble with the
ECG, "I spoke with
Carol Chapman and
indicated a problem
with the ECG?"
A. There were 3
people in the waiting
room as well as Mrs.
Chapman. To stand
there and say, "That
patient has died,"
was not in the best
interests of the
patients who were
waiting to see me
and also it broke
confidentiality. By
saying that the ECG
machine had given
problems the patients
were sat there and
they knew I had not
deliberately wasted
time.
Q. So let's take it in
stages. First of all,
you told Carol
Chapman a
deliberate lie, is that
right?
A. If want to put it
like that, yes.
Q. Secondly, you
justify that by
speaking about
patient
confidentiality, is
that right?
A. That is one aspect,
yes.
Q. Do you remember
when you were
holding forth about
the death of Nora
Nuttall there were
two ladies in your
waiting area and you
with your arms aloft
told them how you
knew this would
happen, "I've been
saying for a long

time that this would


happen?"
A. Do I remember
that?

Do you remember
her?
A. I remember her
giving evidence.

Q. Yes. That is the


evidence?
A. I remember it
being said.

Q. Well, it could
hardly have taken
place with two
females present,
could it, in your
consulting room?
A. I believe she said
that she could see the
screen.

Q. You disagree with


that evidence do
you?
A. I do.
Q. From the
relatives?
A. I disagree where it
took place.
Q. You never
predicted that that
would happen?
A. I don't believe I
did.
Q. And so the
evidence from
Anthony Nuttall's
aunt that you were
holding forth about
the death of Nora
Nuttall is something
you disagree with, is
that right?
A. The conversation
was held in my
examination, sorry
my consulting room
and not in the
waiting room.
Q. I suggest to you
that that is
completely untrue,
that it was in your
waiting room. You
went through the
computer record in
the waiting room. "It
was high pressure. It
was high at the time.
There were 2 females
and he turned to
them and said, `I told
you it would happen.
I knew it would
happen.'" The
witness was called
Elizabeth Oldham.

problem with the


ECG machine.
Q. But you had no
problem with the
ECG machine, did
you?
A. You could argue
that the inability to
get an ECG was the
problem but I won't,
I will just say that
those were the words
I said to Carol.
Q. And having said
those words they
were untrue because
you had had no
problem with the
ECG, had you?
A. With the machine,
no.

Q. Why does that


mean it must be the
consulting room?
A. The screen is not
visible except in the
reception area.
Q. If there were 2
females present it
could not be the
consulting room,
could it?
A. She has got it
wrong.

Q. But you were


indicating to her that
you had, weren't
you?
A. Yes.

Q. I see. Now all you


needed to do when
Ivy Lomas died was
to draw Carol
Chapman aside, take
her into any one of
your rooms and tell
her what had
happened. That was
all that was needed,
wasn't it?
A. And that action I
did.

Q. And that was


untrue, wasn't it?

Q. No you didn't, you


told her a bare faced
lie?
A. Sorry. You mean
when I walked down,
saw patients in the
waiting room and
told Carol I had had
a problem with the
ECG machine?

Q. I think you are. Is


it ever right for a
doctor to tell untruths
to his employees
within the surgery?
A. On occasions, yes.
And this was such an
occasion.

A. It wasn't the truth.


Q. Is it ever right for
a doctor to tell
untruths to his
employees within his
surgery?
A. I'm not quite sure
what you are asking
me there.

Q. Why should you


lie to your staff?
A. There were 3
people sat there.
There was myself
and Carol. If I had
gone into the waiting

Q. That was a bare


faced lie, wasn't it, to
a trusted employee?
A. It was telling
Carol that I had had a

73

room and said, "I'm


sorry Carol, Mrs.
Lomas died, can you
contact the relatives,"
that would have been
breaking
confidentiality and
was not helpful for
the patients who
were sat waiting to
be seen.
Q. And could you
not have simply
drawn Carol
Chapman a few feet
away and whispered
something quietly to
her or even taken her
along to the
examination room?
A. I couldn't have
taken her along to the
examination room
because that would
leave the desk and
the telephones
unattended.
Q. Let's go to the
bundle of
photographs shall
we. Will you look at
photograph 20 in
Mrs. Lomas's bundle.
You have got
photograph 20 in
front of you?
A. I have.
Q. That is the bed or
couch on to which
you say Mrs. Lomas
collapsed?
A. It is the bed that
she collapsed upon.
Q. And there is a
chair to the right of it
as we look at it?
A. It is.
Q. And there is a
yellow container
there, possibly a
water jug or
something similar.
Can you see that?
A. That's the burn
bin.

Q. Will you look


immediately above
that on the wall?
A. Yes.
Q. What do you see
there?
A. That is a phone.
Q. That telephone
there is an internal
phone which permits
you to speak to
somebody on the
reception desk,
doesn't it?
A. It does.

Q. I'm going to
suggest if there is
any truth at all in this
version that you have
given about Mrs.
Lomas's collapse,
that the obvious
simple and
straightforward thing
to have done would
have been to pick
that telephone up and
speak to them at
reception telling
them, "Call an
ambulance
immediately?"
A. That is an option
that I didn't take.
Q. You agree you
could have picked
the phone up?
A. It is possible that I
could have picked up
the phone, yes.
Q. And that phone
would permit you to
speak directly to the
desk, to the reception
desk?
A. Yes.
Q. And that would
permit you to call an
ambulance, wouldn't
it?
A. Yes.

obvious thing was to


call Mrs. Chapman to
help you with first
aid, wasn't it?
A. It is another
option that could
have been taken.

Q. This was as
obvious a case for
summoning an
ambulance, albeit
later than you should
have done, as there
could possibly be, is
it not?
A. No, I said I, that
option I didn't take.

Q. Were you at fault


in not calling an
ambulance at that
stage?
A. On the day I don't
think I was.

Q. Your story as to
what happened in
that examination
room is patently
untrue, is it not?
A. It is not.

Q. Were you at fault


in not calling
assistance in the
resuscitation
process?
A. At that time on
that day I don't think
I was.

Q. If that lady had


collapsed she would
have gone directly to
the ground and not
onto the bed,
wouldn't she?
A. She was climbing
the steps to get onto
the bed when she fell
forward and that put
her onto the bed.

Q. Dr. Grenville's
evidence, you heard
it, he explained that
resuscitation depends
to a considerable
degree on the staying
capacity of the
person attempting
resuscitation. Do you
agree?
A. If it is done
properly, yes.

Q. If she had
collapsed her knees
would have buckled
and she would have
gone to the ground,
wouldn't she?
A. Not in my opinion
no, and she didn't do
either.

Q. Well, you could,


if you wished to, do
it properly, couldn't
you?
A. I did it properly.

Q. You had a major


problem, according
to you and your
version of the facts,
didn't you, upon her
collapse?
A. I'm sorry, I
don't....

Q. The answer is yes.


Carol Chapman to
the best of your
knowledge and belief
was capable of
resuscitating, was
she not?
A. Yes, she was
trained to be a first
aider.

Q. You had a major


problem, didn't you?
There is a collapsed
patient?
A. Yes, I had a
collapsed patient to
deal with.

Q. Dr. Grenville's
evidence, and tell me
whether you agree or
disagree, was that
two would obviously

Q. If you were not


going to call an
ambulance the

74

be better than one?


A. Two are better
than one.
Q. But what is much
better still is a
defibrillator, is it
not?
A. It would have
been useful on that
occasion.
Q. And since it
would have been
useful on that
occasion can you
explain why it is that
you did not then
summons an
ambulance which
would have brought
with it a
defibrillator?
A. I'm sure Dr.
Grenville will agree
that the first action is
to make sure the
airway is open, and I
put an airway in as
well, and to strike the
sternum twice hard.
Q. Now that question
about the airway you
say you put in, do
you remember Police
Constable Reade
attending?
A. The then PC,
Constable Reade,
yes.
Q. You say the then
PC Phillip Reade?
A. Well, I understand
he has been
promoted.
Q. Was there an
implication that I had
unfairly demoted him
in your tone there?
A. I wasn't aware
that you knew he was
now Sergeant.
Q. I see. I will if you
insist call him
Sergeant Reade but
do you remember he

was asked in terms


whether, put to him
that she had a tube
going into her mouth
when he had seen
her. That was the
question put on your
behalf. Do you
remember?
A. Yes.
Q. And do you
remember what
Sergeant Reade's
response to that was?
A. Yes.
Q. "She certainly did
not have a tube going
into her mouth. I'm
100 percent sure of
that." Well, was
Sergeant Reade right
or wrong about that?
A. If Sergeant Reade
knew what an airway
was he would be
wrong because he
only looked at the
face. An airway is
actually between the
teeth and keeps the
tongue forward, as
your colleague will
tell you.
Q. Do you need to
know what an airway
is to see whether or
not a tube is going
into the mouth?
A. Yes, because the
airway does not go
into the mouth, it is
in the mouth.
Q. Are you
suggesting that there
was a tube to be seen
going into the
mouth?
A. There was no tube
going into the mouth.
Q. But that was what
was put to him, that
she had a tube in the
singular going into
her mouth?

better off dead?


A. No.

A. There was no tube


from the outside
going into her mouth.

Q. Did you
contemplate at all an
adrenaline injection?
A. I can't remember
that I did consider an
adrenaline injection.

Q. Can you explain


why it was being put
on your behalf to
Police Constable
Reade that Ivy
Lomas had a tube
going into her
mouth?
A. Perhaps it was to
test his memory to
see if he had actually
looked properly. I'm
not sure.

Q. Would it be a
matter that you
should have
considered?
A. It is one of the
things that is
available and some
people find it useful.

Q. But your counsel


would only put that
proposition to Police
Constable Reade if it
was your case. Are
you saying it was not
your case that there
was a tube going into
her mouth?
A. She had an airway
in situ. She did not
have a tube going
from the outside into
her mouth.

Q. Well, why do you


say you cannot
remember whether
you considered it?
A. If I had
considered it I would
remember.
Q. Was there
anything to be lost by
giving her an
adrenaline injection?
A. Not that I can
think of today.

Q. Well, why then


was the question
being put that she
had a tube going into
her mouth if not on
your instructions?
A. If he had seen the
tube going into her
mouth we would
know he was totally
mistaken. If he had
gone and looked
closely and found the
airway we could at
least say he was
being conscientious.

Q. Well, why didn't


she have one?
A. Because I didn't
think of it on that
day.
Q. I'm going to
suggest there is a
very good and plain
reason why she didn't
have one, because
you had administered
to her a vast dose of
diamorphine, hadn't
you?
A. No.

Q. I see. Now you


contend do you that
you used all your
best efforts to revive
Ivy Lomas?
A. Yes.

Q. You recollect the


evidence of the
toxicologist, don't
you, that she had 9
micrograms or .9
micrograms of
morphine per gram
of thigh tissue?

Q. This is not a case


where you decided
that she would be

75

A. I remember that.
Q. Some 9 times the
minimum amount
found in Soren
Phelby's report?
A. On the one
patient, yes.
Q. The fact of the
matter is that that
lady did not die of a
heart attack at all but
she died of morphine
toxicity, didn't she?
A. The pathologist
has put that forward
as the cause of death,
yes.
Q. But the
toxicological
findings of Mrs.
Evans, the .9
micrograms of
morphine, that is not
the subject of any
challenge by you is
it?
A. I'm not going to
challenge it because
I'm not skilled in that
area.
Q. But you know you
cannot. It wasn't
suggested to Mrs.
Evans that that
reading in itself was
unreliable, was it?
A. Not that I'm aware
of.
Q. Or inaccurate?
A. Not that I'm aware
of.
Q. And what would
you then say that in
fact the cause of
death was in Ivy
Lomas's case?
A. At the time a
coronary thrombosis.
With the information
that is available now
we have to say it is
morphine toxicity.
Q. We have to say it,

don't we, and then


we have to ask don't
we, how could Ivy
Lomas have taken a
massive dose of
morphine or
diamorphine, how
could that have
occurred in her case?
A. I would agree
with that you is the
question to ask.

Q. Well, you have


endeavoured to
answer it before by
suggesting that other
of your patients may
have had substantial
amounts of
diamorphine in their
homes. But it does
not work, does it, in
Ivy Lomas's case?
Where could she
have got the
diamorphine from?
A. I don't know.
Q. Was she suffering
when you first saw
her in your
consulting room any
apparent effects of
diamorphine
poisoning?
A. She didn't appear
to have an opiate
poisoning.
Q. Was she able to
walk along the
corridor to your
examination room?
A. Yes she was.
Q. Yes. You
remember Professor
McQuay's evidence,
don't you, that the
effects of a fatal dose
of diamorphine
would be seen within
a 5 minute window?
A. I remember him
saying that.
Q. Well, if this lady
died at 10 minutes

past 4 she must have


been administered or
administered to
herself diamorphine
between certainly 4
o'clock and 10 past 4,
mustn't she?
A. You can put the
evidence that way
and yes I would
agree.
Q. You were with
Ivy Lomas
throughout all that
time, weren't you?
A. I don't disagree
with that statement.

is there?
A. Was that a
statement or was it a
question?

I did not inject her. I


did not give her
diamorphine or
morphine.

Q. You know very


well it was a
question, formulated
as a question
requiring an answer.
Dr. Shipman, there is
no sensible
explanation, is there?
A. I know, do not
know of any
explanation.

Q. Did anybody else


have the opportunity
of administering
diamorphine to Ivy
Lomas?
A. Not that I'm aware
of.

Q. Save and except


for your guilt?

Q. Continuously with
her. We can see
when you were first
with her because that
is shown on the
computer screen. If
you pull out the A3
schedule, 15.57 and
16 seconds, "Seen in
GP's surgery. Dr. H.
F. Shipman." That is
not a backdated
entry. And so that
indicates that at 3.57
you were in the
presence of Ivy
Lomas?
A. I'm not
disagreeing with that.

A. That's what you


are saying but I
disagree with it
strongly.
Q. Can you think of
any other explanation
other than your guilt?
A. I did not
administer anything
to this lady and
therefore I have no
idea how she got it
into her body.
Q. Will you please
now answer the
question. Can you
think of any other
sensible explanation
other than your guilt?
A. I can think of no
explanation at all.

Q. And you say to us


here and now, do
you, that you were
continuously in her
presence up to the
moment that she
collapsed and died?
A. Allowing for the
time taken for
resuscitation, yes.

Q. Other than your


guilt?
A. I'm not guilty of
administering
anything to this lady.
Q. You agree, I take
it, that you had the
opportunity of
administering
diamorphine to Ivy
Lomas?
A. I had the
opportunity of not
administering as
well. We were there.

Q. How then did Ivy


Lomas get that
diamorphine into her
system?
A. I have no
knowledge.
Q. Dr. Shipman,
there is simply no
sensible explanation,

76

Q. Did Ivy Lomas


administer
diamorphine to
herself in your
presence?
A. She did not.
Q. She could not
possibly have done
so, could she?
A. You mean she
didn't do it. She
didn't do it.
Q. That leaves only
one possibility,
doesn't it?
A. No, I did not
administer any drug
to this lady
whatsoever.
Q. Why did you
simply leave Ivy
Lomas unattended
whilst you went to
attend to other
patients?
A. You mean once
she was dead I left
her and attended to
other patients?
Q. Yes?
A. Yes I did. There is
no terrible rush about
informing relatives,
the police or
anybody else once a
patient has died.
Q. I'm going to
suggest to you to
leave a deceased
person without any
attempt to contact the
next of kin is a

disgraceful way to
behave when you
could have done so
by a simple word of
mouth to Carol
Chapman?
A. That is your
opinion.
Q. It is right isn't it?
A. It is your opinion.

Q. It is worse than
unprofessional, isn't
it, just to leave
somebody for dead
in a back room?
A. That's your
opinion.
Q. Do I take it you
disagree with it?
A. I disagree with
your opinion, yes.
Q. Have you ever
done it before, just
leaving somebody
for dead?
A. Have I seen
people who have
died and then I have
gone off and done
something else prior
to contacting a
relative? Is that what
you are asking me?
Q. You know what
I'm asking you. I'm
asking you if in
circumstances such
as these you have
just left somebody
for dead?
A. I have left a
person dead and
gone on to do
something else, yes.
Q. You gave this as
your explanation,
"The 3 who were
waiting were only
going to be
quickies." Do you
remember that?
A. I remember that,
yes.

Q. How could you


know they were only
going to be quickies?
A. Because I knew
what they were
coming in for.
Q. You had had no
time to read the
Lloyd George cards,
had you?
A. No.
Q. This was just
bluster on your part,
wasn't it, to try to
explain away why
you had not attended
to Ivy Lomas?
A. It was not bluster.

Q. And when it came


to whether or not a
death certificate was
to be signed and
whether the coroner
was to be informed,
it would be that
person's decision and
not yours, wouldn't
it?
A. Yes.

A. Yes.

Q. That would take


Ivy Lomas out of
your control,
wouldn't it?
A. Yes.

Q. He said 5 minutes.
Isn't that why you
went to attend to
other patients,
leaving Ivy Lomas in
the rear examination
room?
A. No it wasn't.

Q. That was why no


ambulance was ever
summoned by you in
these cases, isn't it?
A. No.

Q. You had a major


problem, hadn't you,
with Ivy Lomas?
A. That she had died,
yes.

Q. Of course there
was never any point
in summoning an
ambulance in Ivy
Lomas's case, was
there?
A. There was a point
in summoning an
ambulance. I did say
that was one of the
options I had.

Q. She died and her


body had a
substantial amount of
morphine in it, that
was the problem
wasn't it?
A. That wasn't the
problem.

Q. If you say there


was a point why
didn't you?
A. It was one of the
options I had.

Q. If an ambulance
had been sent to your
surgery Ivy Lomas
would have been
taken away to
hospital, wouldn't
she?
A. Yes, she would
have done.

Q. The reason for no


ambulance was
perfectly simple, you
would no longer be
able to control what
had happened?
A. (No reply.)

Q. And when she


was taken away to
hospital she would
have been the patient
of the doctor at the
accident and
emergency
department of
presumably
Tameside General
Hospital?
A. Yes.

77

Q. Do you remember
what Professor
McQuay said about
the time it takes for
somebody to die if
they have received
an overdose of
diamorphine?
A. Yes.

Q. Can you think of


any other good
reason for leaving
her there, or bad
reason for that
matter?
A. Compared to
what, I'm sorry?
Q. Can you think of
any other reason for
leaving Ivy Lomas
unattended, your
staff uninformed,
other than that you
were waiting to make
sure she had actually
died?
A. The answer to that
question is no.
Q. You told Mrs.
Ward not to go to
Irene Turner for 5
minutes, didn't you?
A. I told her to leave
it a few minutes
because Mrs. Turner
was at the toilet.

Q. You left Ivy


Lomas there in the
back room, didn't
you?
A. Yes, I left her in
the treatment room.

Q. You were waiting


for her to be sure that
she had died, weren't
you?
A. No.

Q. And you went on


and treated 3
patients?

Q. As you looked at
the Royal Doulton in
Lizzie Adams' case

you were waiting for


her to die, weren't
you?
A. No I was not.
Q. As Mrs. Hadfield
heard that silence in
Mrs. West's case,
you were waiting for
her to die, weren't
you?
A. No I was not.
Q. And here in Ivy
Lomas's case as you
attended these 3
quickies, as you put
it, Ivy Lomas was for
certain sure dying,
wasn't she?
A. No she was
already dead.
Q. Now you say that
you saw these 3
quickies and you
called Carol
Chapman into your
room and you said
that you had put Ivy
Lomas on the ECG
machine but you
thought it was not
working. You could
not get a reading and
you thought she had
died. That was your
evidence. Do you
agree and stand by
what you said last
week?
A. What, that the
ECG machine
wouldn't give me a
reading?
Q. No, that you said
this to Carol
Chapman. You said
to Carol Chapman, "I
put Ivy Lomas on the
ECG machine but I
thought it wasn't
working. I couldn't
get a reading and I
thought she had
died?"
A. Yes.

Q. Now you have


explained that you
told an untruth to
Carol Chapman for
reasons of patient
confidentiality before
you had seen your 3
patients, but here you
are speaking to her
after you have seen
those 3 patients and
you are telling her
that the ECG
machine was not
working and you
could not get a
reading on the ECG
machine. You are
again telling an
untruth to Carol
Chapman,, aren't
you?
A. No.
Q. But that is untrue,
isn't it?
A. That I couldn't get
a recording on the
ECG machine?
Q. Yes, that's untrue?
A. I couldn't get a
recording on the
ECG machine.
Q. You had never
tried to get a
recording on the
ECG machine you
have told us?
A. Yes, she collapsed
before I could get
and ECG recording.

way from the truth


when you were
talking to Carol
Chapman, wasn't it?
A. I told Carol the
ECG machine
wouldn't give a
recording because
she was not on the
ECG machine and
when she had died
there was no need to
put her on the ECG
machine.

A. I couldn't get her


on to the ECG
machine because I
was giving
resuscitation.

Q. Now look, the


plain truth of the
matter is that you
were telling Carol
Chapman that your
ECG machine wasn't
working, weren't
you?
A. When I came
down the corridor
after Mr. Lomas had
died, yes.

Q. You have been


caught out, haven't
you, because you
were continuing your
lie to Carol Chapman
weren't you?
A. No, there was no
intention to lie to
Carol once I told her
that she was dead,
Mrs. Lomas was
dead.

Q. No, that's the first


time. I'm talking
now, as you very
well know, about
after you had seen
the 3 patients?
A. I told Carol that I
hadn't got Mrs.
Lomas onto the ECG
machine because she
had collapsed and
died.

Q. I would like your


observations on what
Carol Chapman said
about this. Her
evidence, "He was
always calm, never
got worked up, to
keep us calm I think.
He thought the
machine was broke
and realised she had
died." You made it
plain, did you not, to
Carol Chapman that
the ECG machine
was not in working
condition?
A. When I saw her
on my own?

Q. No, that is not


what you said in
evidence last week.
You said in your
evidence-in-chief,
being taken through
it by your own
counsel, that you had
put her on the ECG
machine but you
thought it was not
working, you
couldn't get a reading
and you thought she
had died. Now that is
quite different from
what you have just
said then. Which is
the truth?

Q. But you said you


had put Ivy Lomas
on the ECG machine
to Carol Chapman.
You never put her on
the ECG machine,
did you?
A. I did not get her
on to the ECG
machine because she
collapsed before I
could get her on it.
Q. And to say that
you thought it wasn't
working was a long

78

Q. Why didn't you


say that last week?
A. I cannot give you
a sensible
explanation. If that's
what I said last week
that's what I said last
week.

Q. When you saw


her after you had
seen the 3 patients?
A. I did not tell her
that the ECG
machine was broken.
I told her that I
couldn't get Mrs.
Lomas onto the
machine because
Mrs. Lomas had
collapsed.

Q. Now just listen to


this, and these where
the words spoken by
Carol Chapman on
oath and in evidence:
"After the doctor said
he put her on the
ECG machine he
said she flat lined?"
Is Carol Chapman
wrong about that?
A. I did not get Mrs.
Lomas onto the ECG
machine at all.
Q. Will you please
answer my question?
A. So therefore I
can't understand how
Carol is saying that.
Q. Carol Chapman
has every reason to
remember vividly
what occurred that
afternoon, has she
not?
A. She may have,
yes.
Q. Well, it is a
dramatic event,
seeing a lady
walking into a
surgery at 3 minutes
before 4 o'clock and
her being dead in the
examination room at
10 minutes past 4,
isn't it?
A. She had been--Q. That is a dramatic
event?
A. She had been in
the building for the
best part of half an
hour, but yes, it is an
event that she should
have remembered.
Q. And then you told
her the ECG machine
was not working,
didn't you, before
seeing your 3
patients?
A. I did say that.
Q. And then after

never got worked up,


to keep us calm I
think. He thought the
machine was broke
and realised she had
died. He said he had
put her on the ECG
machine. He said she
flat lined. He tried to
resuscitate her with
no response." That
was her evidence?
A. Yes.

seeing your 3
patients you said that
she had, referring to
Ivy Lomas, that she
had flat lined?
A. I didn't say words
like that to Carol on
the second occasion.
Q. So you very much
take issue, do you,
with Carol
Chapman's version of
the facts there?
A. As presented to
me at this moment,
yes.

Q. Is she completely
wrong?
A. A lot of that is
wrong.

Q. There is no
question about me
presenting it to you
at this moment. That
was the evidence that
Carol Chapman
herself presented to
the Court when she
was giving evidence
in relation to Ivy
Lomas's case. Do
you understand?
A. I understand.

Q. Right. Police
Constable Phillip
Reade as he then
was, now Sergeant
Reade, 6.10 he
attended, almost 2
hours after the death.
He told us he went to
32 Thornley Street
and he returned at
6.30. He spoke to
you and according to
Sergeant Reade, "Dr.
Shipman said he
treated her for
bronchial problems
and showed her to
the treatment room
so that she could
rest." Do you agree
or disagree with
Sergeant Reade in
relation to that
statement?
A. I disagree with his
statement.

Q. She it was who


said in terms that you
had told her that
there was a flat line
trace in relation to
Ivy Lomas?
A. Yes.
Q. And so I'm not
presenting the
evidence to you, that
was evidence given
on oath by Carol
Chapman. Do you
dispute that she gave
that evidence?
A. No.

Q. Because his
evidence is that you
treated Ivy Lomas
for bronchial
problems?
A. Yes, he is not
remembering
correctly.

Q. Reading from our


note, "He told me
that he put Ivy
Lomas on the ECG
machine but he
thought it wasn't
working. He couldn't
get a reading and
thought she had died.
He was always calm,

Q. Of course there
was the nothing on
any computer or on
any Lloyd George

79

record to contradict
that at that time, was
there?
A. What are we
contradicting please?
Q. That you had
treated Ivy Lomas
for bronchial
problems?
A. Prior to that
attendance I had
treated her a great
many times for
bronchial problems.
Q. That is what you
told Sergeant Reade
that day, isn't it, that
you had treated Ivy
Lomas for bronchial
problems?
A. Not on that day.
Q. And you said to
Sergeant Reid that
you had showed her
to the treatment room
so that she could rest,
didn't you?
A. No I didn't.
Q. And you said to
Sergeant Reade,
didn't you, that you,
"...continued to treat
other patients and on
his return he found
her dead?"
A. PC Reade is
mistaken.
Q. But let us just
understand the
difference between
his version and your
present version. His
version of what you
told him is that you
were absent for a
considerable period
of time treating those
3 patients and you
told him that on your
return you found her
dead?
A. He is mistaken
about what I said.
Q. From your point

of view it was an
anxious matter
having an officer of
the law in your
surgery so soon after
Ivy Lomas's death,
wasn't it?
A. I see no reason
why I should have
been anxious.
Q. Just in the same
way as you were
anxious and you
completely disagree
with the evidence of
Police Constable
Fitzpatrick who went
round to Mrs.
Grundy's house. Do
you remember his
evidence?
A. Yes.
Q. You completely
disagree that as well,
don't you?
A. A fair amount of
it, yes.
Q. And the reason
that you are
disagreeing with
Sergeant Reade's
evidence is this, isn't
it, that you had to
give to him the
version of facts that
would most certainly
avoid a postmortem?
A. No.
Q. What do you
think would have
happened if you had
told an officer of the
law that your ECG
machine wasn't
working and she had
died in your
presence?
A. I haven't any idea
of what he would
have thought.
Q. Do you think it is
more likely, that that
disclosure would
make it more likely
that the coroner

evidence. He was
asked this question:
"Did he speak as to
whether or not he
made any effort to
revive her or attempt
at resuscitation?"
Answer from
Sergeant Reade:
"Yes, I asked him,
`Has resuscitation
taken place,' and he
said, `No.'" On a
matter as important
as that do you take
issue with Sergeant
Reade?
A. Yes, I carried out
resuscitation.

would be informed
or less likely?
A. I don't know
which one he would
choose.
Q. If he knows or if
he has been told
there may been a
mechanical
breakdown in the
ECG machine, he is
likely to inform the
coroner isn't he?
A. I don't know what
the procedure is.
Q. Does not that
occur to you as a real
possibility? "Here is
an accident that has
occurred, ECG
machine not working
in a local doctor's
surgery. I think the
coroner should know
something about
this." That is why
you were giving
different versions to
Carol Chapman and
to Sergeant Reade,
isn't it?
A. No.

Q. Well, has
Sergeant Reade got it
entirely wrong?
A. About the
resuscitation, yes.
Q. Not just the
resuscitation is it?
Carol Dalpiaz, Mrs.
Lomas's daughter,
you saw her that
evening, didn't you,
at about 10 o'clock?
A. I did.

Q. You also said this


didn't you to
Sergeant Reade,
"This lady was
beyond resuscitation,
she was dead?"
A. When I finished
resuscitation she was
dead.

Q. And her version


was this, perhaps you
would tell me
whether it is true or
false, "Dr. Shipman
said that mum had
gone to the surgery.
She had felt unwell.
He took her to the
examination room
whilst he saw other
patients. He had gone
back to her. She was
blue around the
mouth, she was
dead." Has Carol
Dalpiaz got it wrong
in exactly the same
way that Sergeant
Reade has got it
wrong?
A. I did not tell her
the course of events
that you have just

Q. You didn't put it


that way to him, you
put it that she was
beyond resuscitation,
she had been resting
and died in your
absence and by the
time you got to her
she was dead? That's
right isn't it?
A. No it isn't.
Q. Well, let me
remind you of
Sergeant Reade's

80

described.
Q. Did you say that
you took her mother
to the examination
room whilst you saw
her other patients?
A. I took her mother
to the examination
room and she
collapsed and needed
resuscitation.
Q. We have heard
that more than once.
Did you tell Mrs.
Dalpiaz that you took
Mrs. Lomas to the
examination room
whilst you saw other
patients?
A. I told her that I
had taken Mrs.
Lomas to the
examination room.
Q. Did you tell her
you saw other
patients whilst Ivy
Lomas was in the
examination room
alive?
A. No I did not.
Q. Did you say you
had gone back to Ivy
Lomas and she was
blue around the
mouth?
A. No.
Q. She was dead.
You see quite
independently you
have told Police
Constable Reade and
Carol Dalpiaz that
you found Ivy Lomas
dead, haven't you?
A. That's their
recollection of the
events.
Q. Now, you gave
evidence last week
that, "I did not tell
Police Constable
Reade she was a
nuisance, far from it.
I told him I had

thought of a plaque."
Do you still deny
telling Sergeant
Reade that Ivy
Lomas was a
nuisance?
A. I didn't say that
she was a nuisance.
Frequent attender,
but not a nuisance.
Q. Sergeant Reade's
evidence, "He said
she was a nuisance. I
did not infer it. He
said it once. And
then we went on to
talk about the plaque
and he was then still
inferring she was a
nuisance." That is the
truth, isn't it, you told
Constable Reade that
she was a nuisance?
A. I did not tell PC
Reade that she was a
nuisance.
Q. Another thing I
want to ask you
about Constable
Reade. I have just
put to you the
passage about asking
whether resuscitation
had taken place and
you saying no. You
have given us your
version on that. But
Sergeant Reade also
said this, that you
were, you told him
that she may have
just taken her last
breath as you walked
back into the room
and no resuscitation
had been attempted.
That's right, isn't it?
A. It was absolutely
wrong. I don't know
where he has got that
story from.

Q. And Sergeant
Reade also said this,
that, attributing these
words to you, "He
had considered her

such a nuisance and


he was laughing. He
said he considered
her such a nuisance
and using his arms he
had thought of
having part of the
seating area reserved
for her and mounting
a plaque `Seat
reserved for Ivy
Lomas.'" Did you
laugh in the presence
of Sergeant Reade?
A. I told him that she
attended surgery a
great many times and
that we had jokingly
talked about having a
plaque, and she was
not the only patient
that I had joked with.

Q. Had you any


sadness?
A. I'm not quite sure
what you are asking
me. You mean was I
sad that she died or
was I sad that I
hadn't resuscitated
her or what?
A. Had you any
sadness?
A. You are always
sad when a patient
dies.
Q. If you were sad
why were you joking
with Sergeant
Reade?
A. If you allow the
sadness to conquer
all other emotion you
stop being a doctor
because you can't
cope.

Q. Did you laugh in


Sergeant Reade's
presence?
A. I'm not aware that
I laughed and I don't
think he laughed
either.

Q. Are doctors
deprived of human
emotion?
A. And to show a lot
of human emotion at
every time that
emotion could be
shown, I'm sure Dr.
Grenville is writing
this down, he will
say that you can't
practise because you
get too tied up with
your patients.
Sadness that she
died, yes. It is always
a sad event when a
patient dies.

Q. Did you make a


joke in Sergeant
Reade's presence?
A. Yes I did.
Q. What was the
joke? What was
funny about this?
A. That Mrs. Lomas
needed a plaque.
Q. You had seen a lot
of Ivy Lomas hadn't
you?
A. Yes, between
1994 and 1996 she
attended the surgery
23 times on average
each year and she
was already up to 17
times when she came
into surgery that day.

Q. Now this is
another case, isn't it,
as with the Pomfret
family and the
Mellor family, that
Carol Dalpiaz had no
knowledge of any
heart problems. Do
you remember her
saying that?
A. Yes.

Q. And Ivy Lomas


had died very
suddenly in your
surgery, hadn't she?
A. We are not
arguing that, are we?

Q. I'm going to ask


you now to turn to

81

the bundle. Would


you look at page
824?
A. Are these added
in pages?

Q. This is at the,
towards the rear of
the paper work.
MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: 4 pages in
from the A3.
MR. HENRIQUES:
Thank you, my Lord.
If Mr. O'Brian could
be kind enough, or
whoever has the
Lloyd George cards,
just to dig out the
original of that so we
can remind ourselves
of it. Page 847.
MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: 824.
MR. HENRIQUES:
824 I'm sorry. And
would you please
look at the last entry
on that, 1991, does
that say IHD?
A. It does.
Q. Standing for
ischaemic heart
disease?
A. Yes.
Q. Would you now
turn back in the
records, 1991. Look
at page 847. What is
there in 1991, page
847, that permits you
to write on this Lloyd
George summary
card "Ischaemic heart
disease?"
A. There doesn't
appear to be any
entries for 1991.
Q. No. Nor for 1992,
nor any time between
1986 and 1993. Is
that correct?

A. Yes.
Q. And if we look at
the Lloyd George
cards, and by all
means do so if you
wish, but there is
absolutely no entry
on those Lloyd
George cards in 1991
whatsoever. By all
means look at them
and explain how you
could come to write
on the Lloyd George
cards 1991,
"Ischaemic heart
disease?" My Lord,
would that be a
suitable time for a
break so perhaps the
doctor if he so
wishes, but in
perhaps supervised
conditions, can look
at the - do you want
to look at them?
A. No. I thought you
wanted me to
answer.
Q. You have a break
then if you don't
want to look at them.
A. I've already
looked at them. Do
you want the answer
now or we can do it
after the break?
MR. HENRIQUES:
We will continue if
His Lordship thinks-MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: I think he
should be allowed to
answer the question
at this stage if he
wishes to do so.
MR. HENRIQUES:
There is nothing, is
there, on the Lloyd
George cards relating
to 1991?
A. If you turn to 831
you will see that
there is a written
comment by one of

me predecessors
which at the end of
his comment he has
written "Query
ECG."

MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: Very well.
Members of the jury,
we will break off
now for 15 minutes.
Would you like to go
with your usher.

Q. Well, that is 1978,


is it not?
A. And I saw her
twice in 86, 96, with
chest pains, which
when you look back
they could fit an
anginal pain.

Short adjournment
MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: Yes Mr.
Henriques.
MR. HENRIQUES:
Thank you my Lord.
Dr. Shipman, there
should be two loose
sheets there. Before
anything is
distributed to the
jury, you see a page
with the number 831
on it?
A. Yes.

Q. Well--A. So if you look at


it overall she could
well have been
having angina for at
least 1 year, possibly
10 years, so a 5 year
history of angina is
not far out, especially
as the limitation on
her exercise was her
breathing.

Q. Is that a
photocopy of the
Lloyd George card
beginning September
78 going through to
the 14th December
1979?
A. It is.

Q. Let me understand
this, you are saying
are you that 1978 is
an indication that she
had ischaemic heart
disease?
A. I'm saying her
doctor thought it was
worth while querying
an ECG.

Q. And would you


look at a letter
addressed to you
dated 12th June
1978?
A. Yes.

MR. HENRIQUES:
We will consider
that, if we may, after
the break in greater
detail.

Q. Is that a letter sent


to you by a
consultant physician,
Murtaza Husaini?
A. Yes it is.

MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: As far as I
know we have not
got a copy of that
particular part of the
Lloyd George
records.

Q. My Lord, may
copies of those two
documents go to the
jury for inclusion in
their bundle please?
May I suggest, we
have page 824 we
have been looking at,
the logical place for
these would be after
page 826. 824, 826,

MR. HENRIQUES:
My Lord, for that
very reason I
suggested this would
be an appropriate
time. Thank you.

82

831, 831 A. Dr.


Shipman, looking at
the Lloyd George
card, I had been
asking you of course
as to how you
explain 1991
ischaemic heart
disease and you have
made reference to an
entry dated 25th
October 1978. Is that
in your handwriting
or not, the second
entry?
A. It is not.
Q. Could you assist
us please by
translating that?
A. I think it reads,
that looks like
"NAD" is the first
word. "Nothing
abnormal
discovered."
Q. "On
examination?"
A. Yes, "On
examination chest
clear. No....."
Q. "...abormality
discovered. Today
complaining..."
A. Yes, "Today
complaining of
yellow sputum.
Treatment
tetracycline 24. Sick
note for 10 days.
Query for EC," looks
like he has not
completed the G.
Q. You say that.
Why should it be
ECG?
A. Nothing else
springs to mind that
starts an E and C.
Q. What about
electro convulsive
therapy?
A. I don't think that
is relevant to this
patient's condition.

Q. There is nothing
there relevant to
ECG either, is there?
A. You wouldn't
subject a patient to
electro convulsive
therapy on the basis
that you had a query.
Q. Would you have a
look at the document
I have handed to you
at the same time,
page 831 A. Do you
have that?
A. Yes.
Q. The physician's
report. Can you see
there 3 quarters of
the way down that
page her ECG is
satisfactory?
A. Yes.
Q. Now again dated
some 4 months prior
to the query for EC
that we have looked
at?
A. Yes.
Q. All this 11
months, sorry, 11
years prior to your
completion of the
card which appears
at page 824 in our
bundle?
A. These events
occurred in 1978,
that's correct.
Q. You had
absolutely no
evidence at all other
than this, had you, to
justify IHD going on
that card?
A. And the two
entries in my
computer on the
previous year?
Q. Which entries are
you now pointing to?
A. It is in March and
in December.
Q. Page in our

misdiagnosed an
angina pain for
purely and simply
muscular pain and in
December of that
year, 855, on the
18th of the 12th she
again complains of
pain in the neck and
we agree at that time
that it was due to
stress.

bundle?
A. I wouldn't know.
Q. Would you help
me by pointing to
them? Between 847
and 857 we can see
the patient history.
A. Page 852.
Q. Page 852?
A. An entry dated
8th of the 3rd 96.

Q. Sorry, will you


just direct--A. 855, 18.12.96 in
the middle.

Q. And can you tell


us how from the 8th
of the 3rd 96 you are
able to divine in
1991 ischaemic heart
disease?
A. What I said before
the break was there
were 2 entries in that
year which I had not
picked up as
ischaemic heart
disease or angina, but
if we are looking
back and seeing if
there are entries both
these entries could
have represented
angina.

Q. 18.12.96 there are


3 entries, "Diazepam.
Had a chat to patient.
Diazepam works
best. Sleep
downstairs, noise,
swearing, weepy."
Yes. "Loss of
interest. Feels neck
pain due to stress."
I'm sorry, is this
justifying ischaemic
heart disease back in
1991?
A. What I'm saying
is that both these
entries could have
represented
ischaemic changes
and pain on those
days. I'm not saying
they did, I'm showing
a pattern of illness.

Q. That is one.
"Myalgia?"
A. Myalgia, it just
means aching
muscles.
Q. And "Shoulders,
movelat," is that?
A. That's a cream.

Q. But how could


that represent
ischaemic heart
disease 1991?
A. Her limitation on
exercise was her
chest. She's a good
candidate to have
ischaemic heart
disease. She is postmenopausal, she is a
smoker and she has
never entered into his
investigations for
cholesterol or diet.

Q. So you have
prescribed some
cream for aching
shoulders?
A. For pain in the
shoulders.
Q. In March 1996,
and you are using
that to diagnosis
ischaemic heart
disease 5 years
earlier?
A. No, I'm saying
that it was a
possibility that I had

Q. She had pain in


her shoulders in

83

March 96 and neck


pain due to stress in
December 1996 and
that equals ischaemic
heart disease in
1991?
A. I'm adding all the
bits together and
saying that she
probably had
ischaemic heart
disease for 5 years.
There is a query
about an ECG. We
have an ECG that is
reported as
satisfactory.
Q. Come on. This is
a fantastic
proposition, isn't it,
quite fantastic. What
does "Due to stress
mean?"
A. This is when she
is having all the
problem with her
neighbour.
Q. How can it be due
to stress and back to
due to ischaemic
heart disease 5 years
earlier?
A. I made an
estimate of how long
she had had
ischaemic heart
disease for.
Q. What you have
done is to make a
late entry on the
Lloyd George card
trying to show that
Ivy Lomas had a
heart attack, that's
what you have been
doing isn't it?
A. No.
Q. Now 1990,
depression. Would
you find, just look
please back to
through these cards,
page 847. Did Ivy
Lomas attend your
surgery between
1986 and 1993?

A. Yes, the record


would be kept on the
Lloyd George folder
or it could still be in
the computer, on the
old computer in
Donneybrook House.
Q. Let me help you
by going right back
to 1959, the third
entry down there,
1959, which is 21
years prior to the
depression that you
have recorded on the
card, page 824. Save
for that in 1959 there
is absolutely nothing
to indicate at or
about 1990 that this
lady suffered from
depression, is there?
I'm sorry, I'm
corrected, and 1983,
1959 and 1983. But
1990, and thereafter?
A. There is a gap in
the keeping of the
records between 86
and 93.
Q. Yes, got the Lloyd
George cards here?
A. Yes. But there are
no entries off the
computer from
Donneybrook House.
Q. There is one here,
1971 depressive
illness, but between
199 - you see
somewhere you have
got the information
or you should have
got the information
to put on the Lloyd
George cards the
word "depression,"
shouldn't you?
Where did you get in
1990 the ability to
put depression on
there?
A. If those notes
originated when we
were in
Donneybrook House
that would have been

written when I was in


Donneybrook House
and I had access to
the computer there.

anxious, weren't you,


to explain away the
death of Ivy Lomas?
A. No I was not.

Q. 1996 we see
"Depressive illness"
on a card of Ivy
Lomas, 1996. But
nothing at or about
1990.

Q. Would you now


turn to the A3
schedule which is at
the back? You were
in the surgery when
Ivy Lomas died,
were you not?
A. Yes I was.

MISS DAVIES: My
Lord, if one in fact
turns to page 850
there is an entry there
25.10.95. It is the 4th
entry from the end,
"Endogenous
depression recurrent."

Q. You remained in
the surgery for
sometime thereafter
talking, for example,
to Constable Reade
as he then was?
A. Yes.
Q. And you had an
abundance of time on
the 29th May to
make the appropriate
computer entry in
relation to Ivy
Lomas's death, hadn't
you?
A. No.

MR. JUSTICE
FORBES: Thank
you.
MR. HENRIQUES:
1995, yes. Anything
around 1990? Can
you see looking
through the records?
A. I have already
said to you, sir, that
there is a gap
between 86 and 93.

Q. If you were able


to talk about erecting
plaques in the
waiting area why
were you not able to
proceed and
complete the
computer record
details of Ivy
Lomas?
A. Because the
computer had been
switched off.

Q. But when you are


making this
document where
would you get that
information from?
A. It would be either
out of the Lloyd
George folder or off
the computer.

Q. What time is the


computer switched
off?
A. It varies
depending on when
we finish the surgery.
Somewhere around 6
o'clock.

Q. And the fact of


the matter is that
those two were late
entries put on
together at the same
time and they are
false misleading
entries, aren't they?
A. We have no
record between 1986
and 1993.

Q. And that would


give you, wouldn't it,
between 10 past 4
and 6 o'clock to
make the appropriate

Q. Yes. You were

84

entry in Ivy Lomas's


case?
A. No, I may not
have had time during
that episode free
from patients that I
had sufficient time to
make the entries.
Q. And so you made
the entries and
backdated them?
A. One day, yes.
Q. "Chest pain. Lots
of problems at home.
Clinically coronary
thrombosis." And
then, "On
examination dead."
Now you were
continuously with
Ivy Lomas, weren't
you?
A. Until she died,
yes.
Q. Why did you
make two separate
entries?
A. Because if you are
wanting to do any
research or searching
then chest pain could
be searched on. If
you wanted to find
out how many people
had died you could
then search on that.

Q. You had taken


this lady's pulse and
you had taken this
lady's blood pressure.
Why was that not
recorded?
A. Because at that
moment I obviously
couldn't remember.
Q. Why is it recorded
nowhere?
A. Because I never
had the chance to put
it on the computer or
I forgot it when I was
writing these records
up.

Q. I am going
suggest to you that as
a doctor it is
absolutely second
nature when you take
a blood pressure to
write it down? Done
automatically, that's
right isn't it?
A. No.

November 1997. Did


you in fact answer
the surgery telephone
at 5.45 that evening?
A. About 5.45 I
answered the
telephone in the
reception area.

Q. In your case no?


A. In other people's
cases as well.
Q. Ivy Lomas, she
died, didn't she, of
diamorphine
poisoning in your
surgery?
A. The toxicology
people say she had a
lethal dose of
morphine or
diamorphine in her.
She certainly died in
my surgery.
Q. May I just take
you up on something
you said before the
break. You said this
before the break, "I
didn't challenge the
toxicology because
I'm not skilled in that
area?"
A. I think that's a
reasonable statement
to make.
Q. You have had
available to you the
necessary skills and
expertise of others,
haven't you?
A. Yes.
Q. Let us move
please to Marie
Quinn. Marie Quinn
was 67 years of age
when you visited her
home at 20 Peel
Street in Hyde. Your
evidence was that
you answered the
surgery telephone at
5.45 on the early
evening of the 24th

85