Select Committees

Our team is experienced and held in high regard for our representation of senior professionals, public figures and major corporations before Parliamentary Select Committees.  We are widely praised for our capabilities in 'sensitive, high-profile, politically inflected work'.

The main role of Parliamentary Select Committees is to hold government to account on behalf of Parliament, and to scrutinise government activity, through the launch of inquiries.  Increasingly in recent years, Select Committees have extended their remit to inquire into the activities of companies and organisations where these have a significant impact on the public.  Recent examples are the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s examination of the horsemeat scandal and the Culture Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the future of FIFA.

How we work with you

Major inquiries are high profile and take place in the full glare of the media. Giving evidence before a committee can therefore be an intimidating experience, whether you are a senior professional, public official, major corporation or representing a public sector body.

We know that you will also have wider interests at stake, be they reputational, professional, commercial or financial, and we carefully help steer you through the preparation for questioning by MPs, mindful of your broader concerns.  

An inquiry is formally launched by a notice outlining the main inquiry themes or terms of reference. The Committee decides whom it wishes to call to answer questions orally, and it may also call for written evidence to be submitted. Questioning takes place during oral evidence sessions, usually in public, with live media coverage.

It is important for witnesses and interested parties to bear in mind that because chairs and members are now elected, Select Committees are growing in standing, acting with greater conviction and renewed authority. Their increase in profile and self-confidence is recognised to stem from the fact that Committees see their activities as helping to restore the damaged reputation of the Commons.

Select Committee processes are not like those of courts or tribunals.  In particular, there is no obligation to disclose lines of questioning in advance, or to make disclosure of documents that will be put to witnesses.  MP’s have no training in interrogation, and can use oral sessions as an opportunity to pursue their own personal political agendas.  Oral evidence sessions can therefore be unpredictable and challenging.  Committee clerks are usually very helpful, but they will be the first to point out the limits of the assistance that they can provide. 

For these reasons, it is essential that legal advisers to witnesses have Parliamentary experience, if they are to provide the best advice possible.  Our team has that experience.  Our understanding of the parliamentary environment and inquiry process means that you can be confident that your interests are taken care of from the moment you instruct us, from communicating with the Clerk to the Committee or the Chair, helping you to gather documentary evidence and prepare for questioning, to attending oral evidence sessions with you, and where necessary taking care of media inquiries. We also understand that it is essential that we have complete insight into your situation from the outset, and we will work very closely with you from the moment the inquiry is launched, through its duration, and afterwards.

 

The team is led by Stephen Parkinson, who has a wealth of experience acting for public figures before Select Committees, both in Government (where he was Deputy Head of the Attorney General’s Office), and since joining Kingsley Napley.  In recent years he has advised witnesses in Select Committee Inquiries into phone hacking, banking standards, food contamination and FIFA.  He is supported by partners Adam Chapmen, Sophie Kemp and Emily Carter, all of whom have significant experience of acting for witnesses facing major investigations

what directories have said about us

Knowledgeable, responsive, thoughtful, professional, well networked and well connected, with a touch of elegance which goes beyond what one normally encounters in a legal firm.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

They are outstanding; they combine high-level legal skills with real human understanding."

Chambers UK 2021

The team is small but packs a punch well above its size: they are quick, flexible, continuously on the ball and efficient.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

Legal advice is always given with an awareness and deep experience of the wider legal context (in our case, public inquiries) and a sensitivity to the client’s objectives.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

 

Latest blogs & news

Case Note - amenability to judicial review challenge: R (Taggart) v The Royal College of Surgeons [2022] EWHC 1141 (Admin)

The Administrative Court of England and Wales has recently considered whether the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), when producing a report, under the ‘Invited Review Mechanism’ (IRM), could be challenged by way of judicial review.  The judgment of Mrs Justice Hill provides a helpful review of the relevant authorities and illustrates the limits of the judicial review jurisdiction – she concluded that a challenge could not be made.

The ICO’s Enforcement of the PECRs – what powers are at its disposal?

Complaining about a PECR breach to the ICO, especially about an unwanted marketing communication, is quick and easy for the affected person. Meanwhile for an organisation at the sharp end of a complaint, the PECRs enforcement regime is not straightforward to untangle. In this blog, we outline the ICO’s specific enforcement regime when investigating breaches of the PECRs.

The (Long) Covid Inquiry – the challenge of complying with Article 2 in timing the Covid Inquiry

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry has published its long awaited draft terms of reference, and a consultation on those proposed terms. The final terms of reference are of considerable importance to those taking an interest in the Inquiry, as set out here by Stephen Parkinson

Case Note: challenging consultations in judicial review proceedings - R (oao Binder and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2022] EWHC 105 (Admin)

The Administrative Court has recently upheld a challenge to a ‘consultation’ undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) prior to the publication of the National Disability Strategy. Strikingly the DWP gave evidence that it had not been intending to carry out a consultation – but Mr Justice Griffiths held that, as a matter of substance (as opposed to intention), there had in fact been a consultation; and that, (unsurprisingly as it was not a standard that it thought it had to meet) the DWP had failed to meet the legal requirements for a fair and adequate consultation.

 

The Covid-19 Inquiry: the Consultation on the Terms of Reference

In December 2021, the Prime Minister appointed Baroness Heather Hallett DBE as Chair of a statutory public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic across the UK. The announcement concerning the inquiry stated that there would be a public consultation on the draft terms of reference. This blog discusses the likely approach and scope of that consultation.

Data Protection reform: A new direction for charities?

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the Government wishes to reform the data protection legislation within this country in order to ‘unlock the power of data.’ For charities, does this mean the painful prospect of reworking their existing GDPR compliance regime or the promise of a lighter regulatory load?

Why Companies with Supply Chains in Xinjiang and China Need to Act Now

It’s a year since the UK Government announced business measures over human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province of China. In this piece we reflect on those measures and what might come next. We also look at what action prudent businesses should take now if they are concerned about products from Xinjiang in their supply chain, or how products they export to China are being used.

Data: A New Direction - Research, Re-use and Responsibility

High on the Government’s wish list for data protection reform is the reduction of legislative barriers to ‘responsible innovation,’ particularly within the field of scientific research. Due to perceived complexity and lack of clarity, it is feared that organisations either choose not to conduct research at all or rely on unnecessarily burdensome consent processes. This blog considers the likely impact of the Government’s ideas

Consultation on ICO Powers Shows the Breadth of the Regulator’s Powers

On 20 December 2021 the ICO launched a consultation seeking views on three documents, which together demonstrate its wide-ranging powers to undertake investigatory, regulatory and enforcement action.  

The Terms of Reference for the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry

As we await the publication of the terms of reference for the UK wide Covid-19 Inquiry, in this blog I consider the key features of the recently published terms of reference for the Scottish Inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 Inquiry – the importance of the terms of reference

Any day now the Covid-19 Inquiry will publish draft terms of reference. This will be a significant event.  Once agreed, the terms of reference will determine the scope and length of the inquiry which is due to begin its work in the Spring.  In turn this will have a direct impact on how valuable the inquiry turns out to be.  

Data: A new direction - Access to personal data

In this blog series, we will review the key proposals for reform of data protection law within the Government’s consultation paper ‘Data: A New Direction’. We will consider how far the Government will stray from the current path and signpost some potential pitfalls and practicalities for consideration along the way

The right to equality in fertility treatment

A same-sex couple have commenced a significant test case against a branch of the NHS fertility sector for discrimination against them on grounds of their sexuality. 

Court considers that intransigent public inquiry witnesses will often give evidence once they have been compelled to attend

In a 16 November 2021 blog, I described how refusing to give evidence to a public inquiry might play out. Another new case, Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry v Romdhan [2021] EWHC 3274 (Admin), reinforces my view. Potential witnesses in next year’s coronavirus (Covid-19) inquiry take note.

 

Data: A New Direction - Unleashing the transformational power AI?

In this blog series, we will review the key proposals for reform of data protection law within the Government’s consultation paper ‘Data: A New Direction’. We will consider how far the Government will stray from the current path and signpost some potential pitfalls and practicalities for consideration along the way.

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill: Proposed reform of Judicial Review

Attempts to narrow the scope of judicial review have long been on the Conservative Party’s political agenda. Following the Independent Review of Administrative Law (‘IRAL’) and the subsequent government consultation on reform of judicial review, the then Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, introduced the Judicial Review and Courts Bill (‘the Bill’) to the House of Commons on 21 July 2021. The Bill is making its way through Parliament and is currently at the committee stage.

As we highlighted in our earlier blog following the Bill’s announcement, the proposed reforms are, at first sight, milder than had been feared. Nevertheless, the Bill proposes to make significant amendments to the remedies available in judicial review proceedings and to also limit the court’s jurisdiction.

Data protection law reform: A new direction?

In this blog series, we will review the key proposals for reform of data protection law within the Government’s consultation paper ‘Data: A New Direction’. We will consider how far the Government will stray from the current path and signpost some potential pitfalls and practicalities for consideration along the way.

We begin with the Government’s proposals for creating a ‘whitelist’ of legitimate interests which always provide a lawful basis for processing under the UK GDPR. 

Can you refuse to give evidence to a public inquiry?

Individuals asked to give evidence to public inquiries often wonder whether they really have a choice. The case of Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry v Taghdi [2021] EWHC 2878 (Admin) illustrates how refusing to participate might play out. Potential witnesses in next year’s coronavirus (Covid-19) inquiry take note.

Having our cake and eating it: Parliamentary sovereignty in light of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic

One of the key themes of the Brexit campaign was for the UK to retain Parliamentary sovereignty, or “Take Back Control.” This blog focuses on that aspect of Brexit and revisits previous discussions around delegated legislation and Parliamentary sovereignty to assess the effect of the past 9 months on our Parliament.

Reform of the Human Rights Act: The Lord Chancellor’s “mechanism” to correct judgements

At the recent Conservative party conference, the new Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab, signalled his intention to “overhaul” the Human Rights Act 1998 (the ‘Act’). It has since been reported that he is working on a “mechanism” to allow the Government to introduce ad hoc legislation to correct court judgements that ministers believe to be incorrect. Whilst the precise details of any mechanism remain to be seen, this notion is constitutionally problematic in that it potentially grants the executive wide powers to override the judiciary.

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