Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Background
    2. Logistics of the Inquiry
    3. Attending the hearings
    4. Participants
    5. Sir William Gage
    6. The Chairman's report
     Keep up to date with the Baha Mousa Inquiry by subscribing to our news feeds RSS icon

 

1. Background

What is the Inquiry about?
The Inquiry is into the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi civilian, in September 2003 and the treatment of other Iraqi civilians who were detained with him by British soldiers in Basra.

Why has the decision been taken to have an Inquiry now, and by whom?
The Inquiry was announced by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, in a written statement to Parliament on 14 May 2008. The Secretary of State said that the death was a disturbing incident, not just because a man died in the custody of British soldiers, but because an investigation by the Royal Military Police and a subsequent Court Martial highlighted further important questions that needed to be answered.

What is the background to the death of Baha Mousa?
Baha Mousa was an Iraqi civilian who died in September 2003 after he was detained in Basra by members of the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (1QLR). The precise circumstances as to how he came to meet his death is one of the matters the Inquiry will be considering.

What difference will the Inquiry make, as he died in 2003?
The Chairman will make such recommendations for the future as he considers appropriate in the light of the findings he makes regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa and the treatment of those who were detained with him.

What has it been set up to establish?
The Inquiry’s terms of reference set out what it will cover.

What will this Inquiry reveal, in addition to the Court Martial hearing?
Please see the Inquiry’s terms of reference.

How does this Inquiry relate to the Court Martial that has already happened? Haven’t all the issues been covered already?
The Inquiry’s terms of reference are explicit that the Inquiry must investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa and the treatment of those detained with him and that in the process it must take account of investigations that have already taken place. This will include the Court Martial.

Could this Inquiry bring back into question the clearing of the men at the Court Martial Hearing?
Under section 2(1) of the Inquiries Act 2005 the Inquiry has no power to make a determination about any person’s criminal or civil liability.

What role will the MoD be playing in this Inquiry?
The MoD is a Core Participant in the Inquiry and will be involved accordingly.

Back to top

 

2. Logistics of the Inquiry

What is the format of the Inquiry?
The Inquiry is established under the Inquiries Act 2005. Other inquiries have been established under the 2005 Act, including the E.coli Public Inquiry in Wales and the ICL Public Inquiry in Scotland.

At the Preliminary Hearing (pdf - 30KB) the Chairman outlined the format of the Inquiry. It will be held over four modules, each looking into a different aspect of the case as follows:
Module 1: The History
Module 2: Baha Mousa and the other detainees
Module 3: Training and the chain of command
Module 4: The future

Prior to the modules beginning, the Chairman is holding a series of Directions Hearings at which he will hear submissions from the core participants and determine the details of how the Inquiry will proceed.

How long will the Inquiry go on for?
It is not possible to say at this stage how long the Inquiry will take. The Chairman will conduct the Inquiry as expeditiously as possible consistent with fairness to all parties.

Where will the Inquiry be held?
The Inquiry’s offices and hearing room are located in the City of London at Finlaison House, 15-17 Furnival Street, London, EC4A 1AB. Finlaison House is a Government Building with appropriate facilities and space and was available at the right time. The Inquiry team has designed a modern hearing room within the building.

Will records of proceedings be available on the website?
We expect to publish the transcripts of each day’s hearing and the evidence considered as soon as possible after the end of the hearing. If, exceptionally, any evidence has to be withheld, a full explanation of why that was necessary will be given.

We will also publish details of forthcoming hearings and a witness schedule at least a week in advance. Any directions or orders made by the Chairman will be published and will show on the homepage as well as in the appropriate section of the website. You can keep up-to-date with the latest news by subscribing to our news feeds RSS icon.

How much will the Inquiry cost and who is paying?
It is too soon to provide an estimate of the cost of the Inquiry. The cost will depend on the number of witnesses, the length of the Inquiry and the nature of the evidence revealed. Sir William will consider the cost to public funds in his conduct of the Inquiry, subject to the overriding principle of fairness to all parties. The Inquiry is funded through the Ministry of Defence and we will be publishing expenditure on a regular basis on the Inquiry’s website.

Can I put in a Freedom of Information request for information relating to the Inquiry?
The Inquiry has published its Freedom of Information policy. The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 but will seek to be as open as possible in keeping with the spirit of the Act. You will see that a good deal of information is already available on the website.

Back to top

 

3. Attending the hearings (Please note that oral hearings were concluded on the 14th October 2010)

Can members of the public and media attend hearings?
Yes. Hearings will be presumed to be open unless, exceptionally, the Chairman directs that they should be held in closed session. There is a public gallery at Finlaison House and when full oral hearings begin there will be separate facilities for members of the press and broadcast media.

How do I get to Finlaison House?
See our page on attending hearings. Please note that places are limited and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

What parking is available at Finlaison House?
There are no parking facilities provided at Finlaison House.

What are the rules surrounding public attendance?
Members of the public are asked to follow certain standards of behaviour, similar to those in a courtroom. A leaflet (pdf - 21KB) will be given to anyone entering the hearing centre outlining these standards.

 

Back to top

 

4. Participants

Who will be represented before the Inquiry?
The Chairman has formally designated several persons, bodies and/or organisations as Core Participants in the Inquiry. Each Core Participant has recognised legal representatives. He will continue to make such designations where appropriate.

Have the Baha Mousa family and the other detainees been involved in the arrangements of the Inquiry?
The Mousa family and other detainees are Core Participants in the Inquiry and will be involved accordingly.

Will the Baha Mousa family and the other detainees be attending the Inquiry?
Yes, arrangements have been made to allow the family and those detained with Baha Mousa to attend the Inquiry and to be represented before it. They will be present for the evidence relating to the detention and death of Mr Mousa and may themselves give evidence to the Inquiry.

Are the Baha Mousa family and the other detainees happy with how the Inquiry
is proceeding?

The Inquiry has no reason to think they are not, but this question is better directed to the legal representatives of the Mousa family and those who were detained with Baha Mousa.

How do I contact the Baha Mousa family and the other detainees for comment?
Any request for comment from the Mousa family and those who were detained with Baha Mousa should be directed to their legal representatives, Public Interest Lawyers of 8 Hylton Street, Birmingham, B18 6HN.

Have any witnesses been granted anonymity for this Inquiry?
Issues regarding whether evidence is to be provided to the Inquiry by any witness anonymously will be decided by the Chairman as and when they arise and relevant orders will be published on the website. In addition to the reporting restrictions (pdf - 4.31MB) that remain from the Court Martial, the Chairman has already made a ruling (pdf - 48KB) relating to the application for anonymity on behalf of the detainees.

Why are some witnesses referred to by a cipher?
Some witnesses have been granted anonymity. Where this is the case, the witness will be referred to only by a cipher. Ciphers take the form of a letter and three digits. The letter refers to the individuals status (Soldier, Civilian, Detainee or Official). The number is a sequential number issued by the Inquiry with no other meaning.

Several individuals have been granted restrictions by order of the Chairman. Some have full anonymity meaning that they are referred to by a cipher. Others have less stringent limitations, including reporting restrictions and special arrangements for giving evidence. A note of these restrictions has been issued including the orders themselves and, at Annex C, a summary of those restrictions. 

Who will be giving evidence and will this information be provided in advance?
The Inquiry will publish a witness timetable at least a week in advance of each day’s oral hearings.

Are there any restrictions on reporting the evidence of anonymous witnesses?
The Chairman will consider whether to impose any restrictions on reporting the evidence of anonymous witnesses as and when the issue arises. The Solicitor to the Inquiry has already issued a note on reporting restrictions at the Court Martial (pdf - 115KB).

Can I put in a Freedom of Information request for the identity of any of the
witnesses?

The Inquiry will consider on a case-by-case basis the response that is to be made to any request for disclosure of the identity of any of the witnesses. The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 but has published its Freedom of Information policy.

Have witnesses been offered immunity from prosecution?
No. But in the interests of obtaining from witnesses the fullest co-operation and frankest account of the events which had occurred, the chairman has sought and obtained from the appropriate office-holders undertakings in respect of witness evidence. The Attorney General has provided an undertaking in the following terms:

"This is an undertaking in respect of any person who provides evidence to the Inquiry relating to a matter within its terms of reference, including oral evidence, any written statement, any written statement made preparatory to giving evidence, and any document or information produced to the Inquiry.

1 No evidence a person may give before the Inquiry, will be used in evidence against that person in any criminal proceedings or for the purpose of deciding whether to bring such proceedings (including any proceedings for an offence against military law, whether by court martial or summary hearing before a commanding officer or appropriate superior authority) save in such proceedings as are referred to in paragraph 2 herein:

2 Paragraph 1 does not apply to:
i) A prosecution (whether for a civil offence or a military offence) where he or she is charged with having given false evidence in the course of this Inquiry or having conspired with or procured others to do so, or
ii) Proceedings where he or she is charged with any offence under section 35 of the Inquiries Act 2005 or having conspired with or procured others to commit such an offence.

3 Where any such evidence is provided to the Inquiry by a person, it is further undertaken that, as against that person, no criminal proceedings shall be brought (or continued) in reliance upon evidence which is itself the product of an investigation commenced as a result of the provision by that person of such evidence."

The Chairman has received a similar undertaking from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Will soldiers or MOD civil servants also be immune from administrative or disciplinary action?
The Chairman has sought and received undertakings in respect of witness evidence from the Permanent Under-Secretary at the MOD and from each of the Chiefs of Staff of the armed services. Copies of all of the undertakings received are annexed to the Chairman's rulings made after the first Directions Hearing (pdf - 928KB).

What involvement will the Secretary of State for Defence have in this Inquiry?
The Minister responsible for an Inquiry, in this case the Secretary of State for Defence, has various powers and duties under the Inquiries Act 2005 in relation to the conduct of the Inquiry. The question of whether evidence is required to be given to the Inquiry by the current Secretary of State for Defence or any of his predecessors will be considered in the light of the evidence gathered by the Inquiry.

Will any Ministers or senior officials be giving evidence?
The Inquiry is presently at the evidence-gathering stage. The question of whether evidence is required to be given by any current or former Minister, senior member of the military, civil service or any other witness will be considered in the light of the evidence gathered by the Inquiry.

Back to top

 

5. Sir William Gage

Why was Sir William Gage appointed to lead the Inquiry?
The Right Honourable Sir William Gage is well qualified. He was called to the Bar in 1963 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1982. He was made a High Court judge in 1993, assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division. In 2004 he became a member of the Court of Appeal, from which he retired in November 2008. On 21 July 2008 he was invited by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, to be the Chairman of the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry.

To whom is Sir William Gage accountable?
As Chairman of the Inquiry Sir William Gage acts in an independent capacity but will make his report in due course to the Secretary of State for Defence.

Will the Chairman be giving interviews?
Sir William has no plans at present to give interviews. The Inquiry will generally be sitting in public and the transcripts and evidence will be published to the Inquiry’s website.

Back to top

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

6. The Chairman's report

Now that hearings have formally concluded, what is happening within the Inquiry?
Oral hearings concluded on the 14th October 2010. The Chairman is currently drafting the Report.

Will the Report be available to the public and if so how can it be accessed?
The Chairman's Report will be available to the public and will be published in two formats. The first, a hard copy and will be available from The Stationery Office and more details will be published in due course. The second will be a PDF file with hyper links to relevant documents and will be available via the Inquiry website.

When is the Report going to be available?
The Chairman intends to publish the Report on the 8th September 2011.

What will happen after the Report? How will the findings be used?
The Chairman will report back to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Report will be made public shortly thereafter. The Ministry of Defence will then consider the practical implications of any recommendations made and it will be their decision as to whether they wish to adopt them or make appropriate changes in line with the Report findings.

 

Back to top

 

© UK Crown Copyright 2009