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Pre-inquest review held into death of Canterbury conspiracy theorist Max Bates-Spiers

By Jodie Nesling

A date for the inquest into the mysterious death of a conspiracy theorist has finally been set.

Max Bates-Spiers, from Canterbury, died suddenly in a house in Poland in 2016, just days before he was due to address a conference.

The 39-year-old father-of-two is said to have vomited black fluid shortly before his death, but the Polish authorities initially recorded he had died from natural causes.

Max Bates-Spiers died in Warsaw, Poland
Max Bates-Spiers died in Warsaw, Poland

A second post-mortem examination when his body was returned to east Kent proved inconclusive.

His mother, Vanessa Bates-Spiers, of Merchant’s Way, Canterbury, suspects her son – who made a name for himself in the shadowy world of conspiracy theorists and sought to expose government cover-ups – may have been murdered because his work “made him enemies”.

She said that shortly before he died he had texted her saying: “Your boy’s in trouble. If anything happens, investigate."

Today, at a pre-inquest review at The Guildhall in Sandwich, assistant coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks said possible evidence over whether police officers in Poland faced disciplinary proceedings for their handling of the case should be heard.

The hearing, which was held ahead of a full inquest in January, was told there were discrepancies in accounts given by the emergency services at the time of Mr Bates-Spiers' death.

Speaking on behalf of the family, lawyer Adam Taylor said a number of statements from the emergency services were conflicting.

He said: "Local police and ambulance services at the scene provided statements - but in their accounts there is no disclosure as to who was in charge and who were the last people on the scene."

VIDEO: Vanessa Bates-Spiers speaking at her son's graveside last year

The inquest into Mr Bates-Spiers' death was originally opened in December 2016 and adjourned for a full hearing, which had been due to take place last November.

But coroner Alan Blunsdon decided he still did not have enough information to fully examine the death.

In particular, it was hoped witnesses in Poland, who have submitted statements but are not obliged to attend, can give their evidence at the hearing via Skype.

Today, Mr Sutton-Mattocks told the hearing he was especially interested in speaking with the woman whose house Mr Bates-Spiers was found in.

He said: "It would be important to hear from Monika Duval. She has been made an interested person with her involvement at the heart of the case."

Mr Taylor also requested the disclosure of a report outlining analysis undertaken on Mr Bates-Spiers' laptop and mobile phone after his death.

He told the hearing: "The family would like to see this and it has not been made available to them. The laptop should not have been wiped as he was working on a book. The issue (with the phone) is the SIM card and not the phone itself."

Mr Sutton-Mattocks agreed to look into releasing the information and also allowing the family lawyer to arrange the transcription of some of the 700 documents written in Polish. Some key documents had not been transcribed, including a statement from a key Polish witness.

He also agreed to supply the family with a list of correspondence submitted to the Polish embassy.

He said: "It is extremely important everyone is contacted and we have all the information available."

Speaking after today's hearing, Mrs Bates-Spiers said the hardest thing to cope with is the uncertainty surrounding her son's death.

She said: "My son should be here. He was very fit and healthy when I said goodbye to him. He was in great health.

"His death was an enormous blow. I didn't expect him to go to Poland and not come back.

"He definitely suspected that some of the people he was with were not trustworthy.

"As long as we get to the truth, that's all any mother would want."

The full inquest is due to take place the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone on January 7, 8 and 9 next year.

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