The first preliminary hearings in the Public Hearings Project of the Goddard Inquiry were held in March. The transcripts of the hearings (available on the Inquiry’s website https://www.iicsa.org.uk/) offer a helpful insight into the proceedings of the Inquiry.
If your organisation may be giving evidence in the Public Hearing project, or if you’re contemplating core participant status, here are the need-to-know points:
• The terms of the investigations are not strictly limited to those already published.
Counsel to the Inquiry stated that “descriptions of scope for specific investigations were adopted as a working guide…to the direction of the investigation and in order to help individuals and organisations decide whether to apply for core participant status. These descriptions are not, however, set in stone.”
This suggests that where investigations lead, the Inquiry will follow, regardless of whether it is led beyond the scope of the initial bounds of an investigation. This serves as a reminder that the Inquiry’s scope is extremely broad and may involve many participants who even now do not consider themselves to be involved in the Inquiry’s work.
• The Inquiry has no cut-off date limiting its investigations.
It was noted in response to a query from a County Council involved in the Lord Janner investigation that “the Inquiry’s terms of reference contain no cut-off date”. When determining the scope of its internal investigation, the County Council in question should “be guided by the subject matter of the investigation in determining the scope of its inquiries”. Yet again, the inquiry reinforces the point that it will not be limited in its probing and organisations must be aware of this fact when undertaking their own internal work in relation to the Inquiry.
• Core participants will likely receive disclosure of documents
It’s been suggested that possible benefits of core participant status may include the greater disclosure. The Inquiry has now confirmed that, “although there is no statutory right to disclosure, fairness is likely to lead to a core participant being granted disclosure of relevant documentation in relation to those parts of an inquiry which they have clear interest”. Individuals or organisations which anticipate making a significant contribution to the Inquiry’s Public Hearings Project should consider how greater disclosure from the Inquiry might assist. It’s also important to pay careful attention to when the Inquiry welcomes applications for core participant status in different investigations.
Posted on 14/04/2016 in Legal UpdatesBack to Knowledge