Public inquiries are a very well established means of holding public bodies to account. Normally set up after widespread expression of public concern about a particular event, inquiries are generally recognised as having two principal purposes: to ascertain the facts and to learn lessons for the future. Public inquiries cannot determine civil or criminal liability but can make findings or recommendations from which liability might be inferred.
Public inquiries are invariably high profile, emotionally charged and subject to intense media scrutiny. Representation of core participants and witnesses requires specialist skills and experience which few firms possess. Our lawyers are noted experts who have represented clients in may high profile inquiries. We work cross departmentally to achieve optimum outcomes. Our appointment to the Treasury Solicitor’s legal panel for public inquiry work is testament to our reputation and expertise.
It is vital that your lawyers are not learning their job while the inquiry is progressing. You can have the confidence that we will have people and resources to enable us to represent your interests from the moment that you instruct us, from liaising with the inquiry and assisting you with the production of your evidence, helping you prepare for hearings and handling media inquiries.
Our public inquiry lawyers have acted – in particular, representing core participants and key witnesses – in many major inquiries:
- Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry investigating the culture, practices and ethics of the press (2011 – ongoing)
- The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry: Robert Francis QC’s inquiry into the role of the monitoring, supervisory and regulatory bodies in the failings at of this NHS Trust (2010 – ongoing)
- The Iraq Inquiry: Sir John Chilcott’s inquiry to identify lessons to be learnt from the Iraq conflict (2010 – ongoing)
- The Baha Mousa Public Inquiry: Sir William Gage’s inquiry into the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq (2008 – 2011)
- Sir Michael Bichard’s inquiry into child protection procedures in Humberside Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary further to the deaths of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells (2004)
- Lord Butler’s inquiry into the intelligence which the British government had about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction (2004)
- Lord Hutton’s inquiry investigating the death of Dr David Kelly (2003)
- Sir Michael Peat’s inquiry into alleged misconduct within the royal household after the collapse of the Paul Burrell trial (2002 – 2003)
- The Equitable Life Inquiry: Lord Penrose’s inquiry into the problems at Equitable Life (2001 - 2003)
- The Shipman Inquiry: Dame Janet Smith’s inquiry into the activities of Harold Shipman (2000 – 2005)
- The Marchioness Inquiry: Lord Justice Clarke’s inquiry into the circumstances of the Marchioness disaster (2000)
- The BSE Inquiry: Lord Phillip’s inquiry into the spread of BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the UK (1998 – 2000)
- The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: Lord Saville’s inquiry into the events in Derry on Sunday 30 January 1972 (1998 – 2010)
Our lawyers have also acted for interested parties in three major inquests, analogous to inquiries, considering issues of public importance:
- The inquest into the London bombings on 7 July 2005 (2010 – 2011)
- The inquest into death of Jean Charles De Menezes in Stockwell (2008 – 2010)
- The inquest into death of Diana Princess of Wales (2007 – 2008)
For more information, please contact: Adam Chapman