What is a Public Inquiry?

The aim of a public inquiry is to investigate issues of serious public concern. They analyse and critically examine past decisions and events.

A public inquiry operates under the Inquiries Act 2005.

In the past years there have been some extremely important public inquiries that have shone a light on serious malpractice, and illegality of many public bodies. The Hillsborough Inquiry uncovered tragic details which lead to the deaths of 96 football supporters. It also crucially exposed the cover-up perpetrated by the establishment.

The public inquiry into the build up to the Iraq war shone a light on the failure of government, and the way it had effectively mislead Parliament into what is considered by many as a war of aggression. Prior to, but as a result of the war the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry considered human rights abuses against Iraqi detainees by British armed forces.

Other public inquiries have dealt with important and essential weighty matters, the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Bloody Sunday, and David Kelly’s death.

Public Inquiries and the law.

The state generally is reluctant to grant demands for a public inquiry and generally resists those demands. The arguments against them is that they are expensive, lengthy and politically damaging.  Those that are established can be hampered by the ‘terms of reference’ that the inquiry needs to operate under.

The range of a public inquiry can be wide, and their purpose it is argued is to restore public confidence by identifying lessons to be learned by way of a full and fearless investigation.

Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Currently lawyers at the Unit are instructed to act for core participants at the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). The terms of reference can be found here.