Current Key Documents

Initial Procedural Statement, 2nd March 2005

Introduction

On 15th March 1999, Rosemary Nelson, a 40 year old solicitor from Lurgan, died as a result of the injuries she sustained when a bomb, attached to her car, exploded. Despite a very substantial police investigation, nobody has been charged with, still less convicted of, her murder.

In his Collusion Inquiry Report published on 1st April 2004, the Honourable Justice Peter Cory, a retired member of the Canadian Supreme Court, recommended the establishment of an independent public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Rosemary Nelson’s murder and into the allegations of collusion in relation to her murder.

On 16th November 2004, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP, announced the establishment of an Inquiry under s.44 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

Terms of Reference

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are as follows:

“To inquire into the death of Rosemary Nelson with a view to determining whether any wrongful act or omission by or within the Royal Ulster Constabulary or Northern Ireland Office facilitated her death or obstructed the investigation of it, or whether attempts were made to do so; whether any such act or omission was intentional or negligent; whether the investigation of her death was carried out with due diligence; and to make recommendations.”

The Inquiry

The Chairman of the Inquiry is Sir Michael Morland, a retired Judge of the High Court of England and Wales. The other Inquiry members are Sir Anthony Burden (former Chief Constable of South Wales Police) and Dame Valerie Strachan (former Chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise). (Brief biographical details are to be found on the Inquiry’s website (see below).)

The Inquiry Team

The Secretary to the Inquiry is Hugh Burns. Michael Fitzgerald is the Solicitor to the Inquiry. Rory Phillips QC, Mark Savill and Peter Skelton are Counsel to the Inquiry.

Contact Details

At the beginning of this year, the Inquiry established an office in London. The correspondence address for the Inquiry is as follows:

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry
PO Box 50157
London
SW1E 6WW

Other contact details are as follows:

Telephone: 020 7976 0475
Fax: 020 7222 9298

See Contacts Page on this site.

The Inquiry’s approach

The Inquiry intends to carry out its task with rigorous thoroughness and fairness. The Inquiry intends to adopt flexible, even-handed and open procedures which will enable it expeditiously and economically to establish the facts and to make recommendations.

The Inquiry is an inquisitorial and not an adversarial process. The Inquiry will itself seek to find out the truth. It will itself gather in the relevant documents, obtain witness statements and decide from whom oral evidence should be heard. The Inquiry will not treat those from whom it obtains any such material or from whom it obtains witness statements or hears evidence as parties in an adversarial contest or trial

The Inquiry’s Powers

The Inquiry hopes and expects to receive co-operation from all persons or organisations with relevant material or evidence.

However, the Inquiry has vested in it powers to compel persons or organisations to provide it with information, documentation and evidence.

Although the Inquiry hopes that it will not be necessary to do so, the Inquiry will not hesitate to use the powers which have been conferred upon it, should it decide that such use is required for the effective discharge of its duties of fairness, thoroughness and impartiality.

Documentation

The Inquiry has received some relevant documentation and has sent out a number of requests to persons and organisations for further documentation.

Anyone who holds or knows of documents which he or she thinks may assist the Inquiry in its work is requested to contact the Inquiry Office in order that arrangements may be made for their supply to the Inquiry.

Consideration of the documents which the Inquiry has received may show that further documents need to be requested.

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Outline of the likely future course of the Inquiry

The following comments give an indication of the Inquiry’s current thinking. At this stage, no final decisions have been made as to the procedural course which the Inquiry will take.

Following the Inquiry’s Opening Hearing, the Inquiry will issue its finalised Procedures Document .

Full Participants

The Inquiry presently intends to accord to a very limited number of persons or organisations the status of Full Participant.

The Inquiry’s view at this stage is that the following persons or organisations should be accorded Full Participant status:

  • Mr Paul Nelson ( Rosemary Nelson’s husband, also representing their children)
  • Mrs Sheila Magee ( Rosemary Nelson’s mother, also representing Rosemary Nelson’s brothers and sisters)
  • The Police Service of Northern Ireland (on its own behalf and as representing the former RUC and serving, former or retired officers of the RUC and PSNI)
  • The Northern Ireland Office

The Inquiry’s current thinking as to the consequences of being accorded Full Participant status is set out in the following paragraphs.

Representation

It is the Inquiry’s current view that each of the Full Participants listed above should be allowed to be represented throughout the course of the Inquiry.

It is the Inquiry’s current view that the right to be represented will not be granted to any interested non-governmental organisation or public body.

The Inquiry will, of course, welcome submissions or observations in writing or other documentary material from such organisations or bodies and, indeed, from any other person or body who wishes to write to the Inquiry or to provide the Inquiry with documents.

Public Funding

In appropriate cases, the Inquiry will recommend to the Secretary of State that the cost of legal assistance should be met from public funds.

Such recommendations will be made only in cases where the Inquiry has decided that legal assistance is necessary and there are no other means whereby such legal assistance might reasonably be funded.

The Inquiry does not envisage making recommendations in respect of any public body, any commercial concern, trade union, staff association or any other substantial body.

The grant of public funding will be conditional upon agreement by the relevant person or persons to a protocol, which will be issued in due course and which will deal with such matters as the nature of the work permitted to be undertaken, the level of legal assistance, the relevant hourly charging rates for each of the lawyers concerned, the capping of chargeable time, the submission of monthly bills in an approved form to the Solicitor to the Inquiry .

The Inquiry’s current view is that the cost of legal assistance for Mr Paul Nelson and Mrs Sheila Magee respectively, on the standard basis, should be met from public funds, subject in each case to prior agreement to the funding protocol referred to above.

Documentary Analysis

Once the documentary material has been gathered in, it will be analysed by the Inquiry and the Inquiry Team.

Witness Statements

On the basis of that analysis, a decision will be made as to those persons from whom a witness statement will be required.

Further Statements

It may be necessary to revert to some witnesses for further evidence or for clarification of their evidence in the light of other evidence or material received by the Inquiry.

Subject to questions of confidentiality, as summarised below, it is the Inquiry’s present view that copies of all Witness Statements or Further Statements provided to the Inquiry will, in due course, be provided to the Full Participants. It is likely that the provision of  Witness Statements or Further Statements will be subject to a suitable confidentiality undertaking.

The Inquiry Bundle

When the Inquiry has gathered in all the documentation relevant to its work, a Bundle will be prepared, for use in the preparation for and during the Full Hearing.

It is the Inquiry’s present intention that a copy of the Inquiry Bundle will be provided to all Full Participants.

It is likely that the provision of the Inquiry Bundle will be subject to a suitable confidentiality undertaking.

From time to time, it may prove necessary to add to the Inquiry Bundle. The Inquiry will itself make arrangements for the copying and distribution of additional material.

Confidentiality

This is a Public Inquiry and it will be conducted in an open and transparent manner.

The Inquiry will assume that information, documents and statements provided to it may be distributed to the Full Participants and referred to at the Inquiry’s public hearings.

However, should the private address, telephone number or other contact details of any individual appear in any document or statement provided to the Inquiry, those details will be deleted prior to distribution to the Full Participants and no reference to these details will be made in the course of the Full Hearing or in any material made public by the Inquiry.

Where a person or organisation considers that any other personal details or information or any part of a document or statement should not be disclosed to the Full Participants or made public, the Solicitor to the Inquiry should be informed without delay. Reasons for the objection taken should be provided in writing. The Inquiry will consider all such representations and make decisions, either on the basis of the representations or, as necessary, following an oral hearing.

Subsequent Criminal or Disciplinary Proceedings

The Inquiry has been giving consideration to these questions, in the light of the very serious allegations which the Inquiry is required to investigate. The issue which arises is whether it would assist the Inquiry’s search for truth if witnesses had been granted some, albeit limited, forms of immunity in respect of their evidence and information, documents and witness statements provided to the Inquiry by them. The Inquiry has considered, first, whether it would be right to ask the Attorney General for an undertaking that all witnesses would be immune from prosecution on the basis of their own evidence and information, documents and witness statements provided to the Inquiry by them and, secondly, whether it should seek undertakings from relevant public bodies in relation to witnesses’ immunity from disciplinary action on the basis of their own evidence and information, documents and witness statements provided to the Inquiry by them.

The Inquiry has reached no concluded view on either of these matters and proposes to defer any decision until further investigation of the documentary material has been undertaken.

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The Full Hearing

As soon as it is possible to do so, the Inquiry will announce the date of its Full Hearing and the details of the venue in which that Hearing will take place.

The Inquiry will provide a list of those witnesses which it proposes to call to give oral evidence at the Full Hearing.

At this stage, it is not possible to make detailed statements as to the conduct of the Full Hearing. However, the following points indicate the Inquiry’s present views.

At the beginning of the Full Hearing, there will be an Opening Statement by Counsel to the Inquiry. Thereafter, the Inquiry may invite the representatives of the Full Participants to make short Opening Statements. It is likely that all such Opening Statements will follow the delivery of written submissions, in advance of the Full Hearing and will be time-limited, in accordance with a Timetable for the Full Hearing which will be produced and published in due course.

It is the Inquiry’s expectation that all questioning of witnesses at the Full Hearing will usually be undertaken by Counsel to the Inquiry, on the Inquiry’s behalf. In exceptional cases, the Inquiry may be prepared to allow further questioning by representatives of Full Participants or others.

The Inquiry expects that the Full Hearing will take place in public. If, in exceptional circumstances, a decision is taken to hold any part of the Full Hearing other than in public or to take any other measure designed to protect the identities of witnesses or others, that decision will only be made following consideration and determination by the Inquiry and usually following application. The Inquiry would usually expect to give its reasons for any such decision in public.

It is proposed that a real time transcription service will be used for the Full Hearing. Real time transcription involves the recording on computers of what is said during the hearing, as it is said. The words spoken appear on monitors, virtually simultaneously.

Media and Website

Representatives of the media will, of course, be welcome at all of the Inquiry’s hearings. The Inquiry Secretary will make arrangements to accommodate the media’s attendance and to facilitate full and proper reporting of the Inquiry’s proceedings.

In addition, the Inquiry will make full use of its website, so as to put evidence considered by it and the transcripts of its hearings into the public domain.

Opening Hearing

The Inquiry’s Opening Hearing will take place at 11 am on Tuesday 19th April 2005, at Craigavon Civic Centre, Lakeview Road, Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland BT64 1AL.

Any person who wishes to raise any matter relevant to the Inquiry’s work or its proposed procedures, as summarised above, should do so in writing. In particular, the Inquiry would welcome submissions on the following matters: 

  • Any applications for Full Participant status
  • Any applications for representation
  • Any applications for public funding
  • Any observations on the question of subsequent criminal or disciplinary proceedings

All such written submissions or observations should be addressed to the Secretary to the Inquiry and received by no later than 4pm on Tuesday 5th April 2005.

At the Opening Hearing, the Chairman will make a short Statement, introducing himself and the other Inquiry members and setting out the Inquiry’s intentions as to the future conduct of the Inquiry.

Arrangements will be made for the Chairman’s Statement to be filmed and made available for broadcast.

After the Opening Hearing

As soon as is practicable after the Opening Hearing, the Inquiry will issue its finalised Procedures Document and Funding Protocol and give its decision in writing on any other procedural matter which is required at that stage.

If, in an exceptional case, the Inquiry decides that further oral argument on any matter is required, if will make arrangements for a further procedural hearing.

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry
2 March 2005

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