Parliamentary hearing will hear plea on lethal injection drugs

By staff writers
February 14, 2011

The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Abolition of the Death Penalty will hear evidence on Tuesday 15 February from the mother and brother of Brandon Rhode, who was executed in the US state of Georgia in September last year with drugs imported from the UK.

Also testifying will be Dr Mark Heath, the leading expert on US lethal injection procedures. He is expected to say that Brandon Rhode’s eyes remained open during his execution and to suggest the British drugs which were obtained from the one-man wholesaler ‘Dream Pharma’ operating out of the back of a driving school in Acton, were defective.

Dr Heath said “...if the thiopental was inadequately effective, Mr Rhode’s death would certainly have been agonising; there is no dispute that the asphyxiation caused by pancuronium and the caustic burning sensation caused by potassium would be agonising in the absence of adequate anesthesia.”

The first hour will be an All Party Parliamentary Group hearing, which is open to press and the public. From 11am the panel will take questions from the press and members of the public. The hearing will be hosted by Baroness Vivien Stern, APPG chair, and chaired by Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions and APPG Vice Chair.

The legal charity Reprieve is asking the Business Secretary Vince Cable to put in place strict measures regulating the export of pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride from the UK.

Reprieve reports that Matt Alavi, the Managing Director of Dream Pharma, had been selling sodium thiopental for between six and twelve times its recommended price, knowing that it was to be used in lethal injections. Drugs supplied by Alavi have also been used to kill two other prisoners, Emanuel Hammond and Jeffrey Landrigan.


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.