The Inquiry Team
Ministerial Statements
Terms of Reference
Opening Statement
Procedural Meetings

List of Issues
Phase 1 - Cases
Phase 2
Generic Evidence
Questions and Answers
Technical Assistance

Background to the Inquiry


Harold Fredrick Shipman was convicted at Preston Crown Court on 31 January 2000 of the murder of 15 of his patients while he was a General Practitioner at Market Street, Hyde, near Manchester and of one count of forging a will. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Police have also investigated allegations that he may have murdered many more patients while he was a GP in Hyde and Todmorden.

On 1 February 2000, the Secretary of State for Health announced that an independent private inquiry would take place to establish what changes to current systems should be made in order to safeguard patients in the future. Although it would be held in private its report would be made public. The private inquiry, under the chairmanship of Lord Laming of Tewin, began work on 10 March and was charged with reporting its findings and recommendations to the Secretary of State for Health and the Home Secretary by September 2000.

Many of the families and sections of the British media sought a Judicial Review in the High Court, which found in their favour and recommended that the Secretary of State for Health reconsider his decision that the Inquiry should be held in private.

In September 2000, the Secretary of State for Health announced that the Inquiry would be held in public under the terms of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921. Both Houses of Parliament ratified this decision in January 2001.

Dame Janet Smith DBE, a High Court judge, was appointed Chairman of The Shipman Inquiry and the work of the independent public inquiry began in February 2001. The public hearings into Phase 1 began on 20 June 2001. The public hearings into Phase 2 began on 7 May 2002.

The Inquiry's First Report was published on 19 July 2002 and its Final Report on 27 January 2005.

Back to top

Published by The Shipman Inquiry
© Crown Copyright 2001