There is positive progress to report on preparations for the Pubic Inquiry following a meeting between The Society and other groups with Sir Brian Langstaff and the Inquiry Team earlier this week.
Sir Brian thanked everyone who had responded to the consultation on the Terms of Reference for The Inquiry and said the document, when published, would set out the ‘route map’ for the Inquiry. In addition to the Terms of Reference, Sir Brian said there would be a package of documents which will include a letter from him to people who have been affected, a letter to David Lidington at the Cabinet Office outlining some of the structure and procedures of The Inquiry, a summary of responses to the consultation and information on Inquiry procedures.
The Terms of Reference are expected to be announced through a written statement in Parliament well before the summer Parliamentary recess.
In response to questions about the use of an ‘expert panel’ Sir Brian has decided to have groups of expert witnesses. His view is that rather than discussions between experts happening out of the public domain, which could happen with a panel, groups of experts should give their opinions in the open and their views argued and discussed transparently. A number of witnesses for each area under consideration will ensure balanced views and core participants will be able to recommend experts.
Sir Brian went on to say it is important The Inquiry is as open and accessible as the law permits and he understands they are investigating a ‘cover up’. Evidence should be argued and investigated transparently. He added that while progress at first may not be ‘dramatic’ he feels ‘time spent at the beginning is time saved overall’.
The Inquiry agreed to work with the community to help develop a public opening to the Inquiry which will give proper recognition to those people who have already lost their lives.
There will be a further meeting between the Inquiry Team and the core participants in September, with legal counsel attending and being able to comment and make suggestions on procedural recommendations.