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Press Notices

HI – 13

7 January 2004

STATEMENT

There have been a number of reports in the press today about written submissions made to the Hutton Inquiry by the Government. Therefore Lord Hutton has issued the following statement to clarify the position in relation to those submissions:

It has always been public knowledge that after the closing oral statements by their counsel all the parties at the Inquiry were given the opportunity to submit further written submissions. In his closing statement to the Inquiry on 25th September 2003 Mr Dingemans QC, counsel to the Inquiry, said:

"The parties are being given the opportunity to put in any further written submissions and given the opportunity to correct any factual errors they say have been made in any written submissions."

The parties were given this opportunity in the interests of fairness in case any party considered that it had not fully developed all the points it wished to make in the course of its oral submissions.

The BBC, Mr Andrew Gilligan, the Kelly family, as well as the Government, availed themselves of the opportunity to submit further written submissions, and the further written submissions of each party were sent to all the other parties. Therefore, contrary to the suggestions in some of the press reports today, there was nothing surprising or unexpected or of special significance in the making of these written submissions.

The Inquiry received requests for the parties' written submissions to be posted on its website and on 13th October 2003 the Inquiry's solicitor, Mr Martin Smith, wrote to the solicitors for all the parties stating:

"As you will be aware through your counsel, the Inquiry has received requests for the parties' written submissions to be posted on its website. Lord Hutton is currently minded to accede to this request in relation to the parties' final (but not interim) submissions.

"Please let me know whether you have any objections to this course of action."

The parties who had made oral submissions replied stating that they were opposed to the publication of the written submissions pending the publication of the report and, in slightly different terms, they all made the point that publication would encourage a trial of various individuals (against whom no criticism might be made in the report) by the media and that this would be unfair.

After considering this objection, and balancing the need to protect individuals against the benefits of publishing the written submissions before the delivery of his report, Lord Hutton concluded that he should not publish the submissions pending his report, and that he would give further consideration to the publication of the written submissions after the report had been published. Therefore on 22nd October 2003 the Inquiry's solicitor wrote to the respective solicitors for the parties as follows:

"Thank you for your letter containing representations about whether Lord Hutton should confirm his provisional view that it was appropriate for the parties' final (but not interim) written submissions to be published on the Inquiry's website.

"Having reviewed your letter, and those received from the other parties on this issue, Lord Hutton has decided that these documents should not be made available to the public at this stage. Accordingly, the written submissions will not be posted on the website prior to Lord Hutton's report being published.

"Lord Hutton will give further consideration to whether the parties' written submissions should be made public, after his report is published."

Note for Editors

Media queries relating to Lord Hutton's investigation should be directed to the DCA Press Office, Tel: 020-7210 8512/13.

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