Current Key Documents

Procedures Document, 23rd May 2005


1. On 15thMarch 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.

2. In his Collusion Inquiry Report published on 1stApril 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.

3. On 16thNovember 2004, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced the establishment of an Inquiry under s.44 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

Terms of Reference

4. 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, Northern Ireland Office, Army or other state agency 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

5. 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 About the Inquiry).)

6. The Secretary to the Inquiry is Hugh Burns. He heads the administrative team. Michael Fitzgerald is the Solicitor to the Inquiry and heads the legal team. In addition, Rory Phillips QC, Mark Savill and Peter Skelton are Counsel to the Inquiry.

Contact Details

7. The correspondence address for the Inquiry is as follows:

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry
PO Box 50157

Other contact details are as follows:

Telephone: 020 7976 0475
Fax: 020 7222 9298

E-Mail: click here

The Inquiry has established a website, at:

Throughout the course of its work, the Inquiry will use its website to publish rulings, press notices and announcements, witness statements, relevant documents and transcripts of its hearings and of evidence given to it.

Full Participants

8. The Inquiry has decided 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)

* Mr Colin Port (on his own behalf and on behalf of all police officers, whether or not members of the RUC or PSNI, who are or were members of the Rosemary Nelson Murder Investigation Team)

* The Northern Ireland Office

* The Ministry of Defence

9. The consequences of being accorded Full Participant status are set out in remainder of this Document.


10. Each of the Full Participants listed above will be permitted to be represented throughout the course of the Inquiry. (For a list of the Full Participants' representatives, please click here.)

11. If any other person, who is not represented by a Full Participant's lawyers or whose interests differ from those of the Full Participants, wishes to be legally represented, he or she should apply, in writing, to the Inquiry. The application should be addressed to the Inquiry Solicitor.

12. The Inquiry will consider applications for representation at any stage of its work and would not wish, in this Document, to define or limit the circumstances in which such an application might be made. Moreover, nothing in this Document should be taken to confine the Inquiry's discretion to grant the right to be represented to any person at any stage of its work.

13. However, the Inquiry's process is an inquisitorial and not an adversarial one. Accordingly, the scope for the involvement of legal representatives, other than those acting on behalf of the Full Participants, will be limited. In general, the Inquiry will only grant an application for representation where it considers that it is necessary for the person to be legally represented so as to assist the Inquiry in its work or in the interests of fairness. In particular, the Inquiry does not intend to grant the right to be represented to any interested public or non-governmental organisation.

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Public Funding

14. The Inquiry's procedures in relation to the provision of public funding for legal representation will be set out in the Inquiry's Funding Protocol, which will be issued in due course.

The Provision of Material to the Inquiry

15. The Inquiry appeals to all persons or organisations in possession of relevant material to contact the Inquiry Solicitor and make that material available to the Inquiry. Relevant material includes all documents, plans, photographs, audio/visual recordings and other information which bear upon the Inquiry's Terms of Reference.

16. It is hoped and expected that such material will be provided voluntarily. However, the Inquiry has statutory powers to compel the production of relevant material which it will not hesitate to use should it become necessary for the effective discharge of its duties of fairness, thoroughness and impartiality.

17. All material provided to the Inquiry should be in its original, un-redacted form, except with the agreement of the Inquiry Solicitor.

18. Those in possession of relevant material should be aware that the Inquiry does not intend to receive material on a confidential on an 'off the record' basis. However, where a person or organisation intends to provide the Inquiry with material which they themselves hold on a confidential basis, they should not do so until they have:

a. Satisfied themselves that the provision of such material will not amount to a breach of confidence between themselves and a third party; and

b. Provided the Inquiry Solicitor with written assurance to that effect.

19. Where it is not possible for a person or organisation to provide such assurance to the Inquiry Solicitor, it may be necessary for the Inquiry to use its statutory powers to compel the production of the relevant material.

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The Disclosure to and Publication of Material by the Inquiry

20. The Inquiry has an obligation to ensure that no person's personal safety is compromised as a result of its work. Prior to the disclosure or publication of any material by the Inquiry, the Inquiry will therefore assess whether there is a risk that the release of that material could compromise a person's safety; and where such a risk exists the Inquiry will withhold the release of that material or will release the material only after appropriate alteration by way of redaction or anonymisation.

21. Subject to this and to the exceptions identified below, there is a general presumption that all relevant material received by the Inquiry may be made public.

22. Those persons from whom the Inquiry requires a witness statement will, in order to assist them in the preparation of their evidence, be provided with copies of the material which is relevant to that evidence. That material will be provided subject to a suitable confidentiality undertaking.

23. Full Participants will be provided with a copy of the Inquiry Bundle of relevant material, for use in the preparation for and during the Full Hearings, well in advance of the start of the Full Hearings. The Inquiry Bundle will be provided subject to a suitable confidentiality undertaking.

24. In addition, the Inquiry expects that the following material will be published on the Inquiry's website (in original or redacted form): all witness statements; all documents referred to by witnesses in their statements; and the transcripts of the oral hearings. Once the Inquiry's Report is published, other material referred to in the Report will also be made available on the website.

25. Where a person or organisation has concerns about the disclosure or publication of any relevant material which they have provided to the Inquiry, they should raise those concerns with the Inquiry in the first instance, by writing to the Inquiry Solicitor. In all cases, the Inquiry will liaise with the person raising those concerns and will endeavour, where possible, to resolve them by agreement. Thereafter it may become necessary to apply to the Inquiry Panel:

  • To redact part of the material prior to disclosure or publication; or
  • To withhold some or all of the material from disclosure or publication on the grounds of public interest immunity; or
  • To alter the material so as to preserve anonymity.

26. The Inquiry's procedures in respect of redaction, public interest immunity and anonymity are set out below.

27. The Inquiry will, in any event, defer the disclosure or publication of that material pending the resolution of those concerns or the determination of any applications to the Inquiry.

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28. Redaction will occur where it is necessary to prevent the disclosure or publication of:

  • Irrelevant personal information; or
  • Sensitive information.

29. Irrelevant personal information may include: private addresses, work addresses, telephone numbers, the names of children or relatives and details of medical conditions. Sensitive information constitutes any information which a person or organisation considers should not be disclosed or published. This may include information contained in classified documents (i.e. documents classified under the Protective Marking System) and/or information which gives rise to concerns in respect of national security or the safety of particular individuals.

30. The Inquiry will ordinarily redact irrelevant personal information from all documents which are disclosed to Full Participants or third parties, or published on the Inquiry's website. In addition, no reference to such information will be made in the course of the Full Hearing. However, in exceptional cases, where it is necessary to disclose such information to Full Participants or other persons or organisations, the Inquiry will require an undertaking that the information will remain confidential and will only be used for the purposes of the Inquiry.

31. Documents containing sensitive information will not automatically be redacted by the Inquiry, except insofar as is necessary to remove information which is irrelevant; i.e. personal information or sensitive information which is irrelevant to the Inquiry's work.

32. Where a person or organisation considers that a document, or part of a document, containing sensitive information or irrelevant personal information (over and above those categories set out in paragraph 29 above) should not be disclosed or publicised by the Inquiry, they should raise these concerns with the Inquiry, by writing to the Inquiry Solicitor, requesting the redaction of particular passages prior to disclosure or publication.

33. The letter should set out:

  • The passages in respect of which redaction is sought; and
  • The reasons why redaction is necessary.

34. Applications for redactions will be subject to an oral hearing, if necessary.

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Public Interest Immunity

35. Where a person or organisation considers that the disclosure or publication of particular information by the Inquiry may cause real harm to the public interest, it is open to them to apply to the Inquiry Panel to withhold such disclosure or publication.

36. In such circumstances, it will be necessary for the person or organisation to:

a. Identify the specific information which it considers should be withheld from disclosure or publication;

b. Demonstrate that the publication or disclosure of such information may cause real harm to the public interest;

c. Explain how the material containing the information should be treated - in particular whether:

i. the material should be withheld from publication or disclosure; or

ii. the material may be published or disclosed after the redaction and/or anonymisation of the information identified.

37. Applications for public interest immunity should be made in writing and addressed to the Inquiry Solicitor and, when made by Government departments or agencies, should be accompanied by a certificate from the relevant Minister. Applications will be subject to an oral hearing, if necessary.


38. There is a general presumption that:

  • Witnesses giving evidence to the Inquiry will be named; and
  • The identities of individuals referred to in material provided to the Inquiry may be made public - except where those names constitute irrelevant personal information (see paragraph 29 above).

39. However, it is open to any person or organisation to apply to the Inquiry Panel for anonymity in respect of themselves or another person. There are a number of reasons why such an application may be made. However, in general the applicant will need to satisfy the Inquiry Panel that anonymity is necessary:

  • To protect the personal safety of a particular person or his or her family; or
  • Where the identification of an individual may cause real harm to the public interest.

40. Applications for anonymity should be made in writing, addressed to the Inquiry Solicitor, and will be subject to an oral hearing, if necessary.

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Subsequent Criminal or Disciplinary Proceedings

41. The Inquiry will ask the Attorney General for an undertaking in respect of any person who provides information, documents, witness statements or evidence to the Inquiry that no such material will be used in any criminal proceedings against that person, except proceedings in which that person is charged with having given false evidence to the Inquiry.

42. The Inquiry will seek undertakings from relevant public bodies, including the PSNI, NIO and Ministry of Defence in respect of any employee who provides information, documents, witness statements or evidence to the Inquiry that no such material will be used in disciplinary proceedings against that person.

Witness Statements

43. The material provided to the Inquiry will be considered and analysed by the Inquiry. Where appropriate, requests for further material will be made.

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

45. The Inquiry will employ a firm of solicitors to act as agents to the Inquiry for the purpose of taking the majority of the witness statements. The Inquiry will announce the name of the firm and give details of the partner who will lead the team of statement takers, once the present recruitment process has been completed.

46. 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.

47. Copies of witness statements and further statements provided to the Inquiry will, in due course, be provided to the Full Participants. The provision of witness statements and further statements will be subject to a suitable confidentiality undertaking.

48. Well in advance of the start of the Full Hearings, the Inquiry will notify all persons from whom it wishes to hear oral evidence at the Full Hearings and provide a list of those persons to the Full Participants.

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The Police Murder Investigation

49. The Inquiry has appointed Mr Robert Ayling, former Acting Chief Constable of Kent Police, to lead a small team of former police officers from outside Northern Ireland with the relevant levels of experience and expertise to assist the Inquiry in its work.

50. Mr Ayling will act as the Inquiry's expert in assessing the quality of the police investigation into Rosemary Nelson's murder when measured against applicable standards of best practice at the relevant times.

51. In due course, Mr Ayling will submit a report to the Inquiry, which will be provided to the Full Participants, subject to a suitable confidentiality undertaking. The Inquiry expects Mr Ayling to give evidence at the Full Hearings.

The Full Hearings

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

53. At this stage, it is not possible to make detailed statements as to the conduct of the Full Hearings. In due course, the Inquiry will publish a timetable for the procedural steps leading up to the Full Hearings and procedural rules governing the conduct of the Full Hearings.

54. However, the following paragraphs set out the Inquiry's present views.

55. It is expected that the Full Hearings will themselves be subject to a timetable for submissions and evidence.

56. At the beginning of the Full Hearings, 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 Hearings and will be time-limited.

57. It is the Inquiry's expectation that the vast majority of the questioning of witnesses at the Full Hearings will be undertaken by Counsel to the Inquiry, on the Inquiry's behalf.

58. The Inquiry expects that the Full Hearings will take place in public. If, in exceptional circumstances, a decision is taken to hold any part of the Full Hearings other than in public, 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.

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry
23 May 2005

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