Current Key Documents

Second Procedural Update, 30th June 2006

In this announcement, the Inquiry will give details of the work which has been done in the six months since its last Procedural Update (of 14thDecember 2005) and outline some of the steps which remain to be taken in preparation for the start of the Full Hearings, onTuesday 16thJanuary 2007.


The Inquiry has continued to seek and to receive documents and other relevant material from a wide range of providers. In general, the Inquiry’s requests have been dealt with in a co-operative and helpful way. As the start of the Full Hearings approaches, the Inquiry would like to stress that the success of its work and its ability to meet the timetable which it has set for itself is to a significant degree dependent on prompt and full co-operation on the part of those with whom it engages in its work.

Witness Statements

The Inquiry has, to date, asked in excess of 270 people to provide a witness statement. The Inquiry’s appointed solicitors, Eversheds, have conducted witness interviews, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, over the last four months. They will continue their work throughout the summer.

The Inquiry hopes and expects that everyone who is asked to provide a witness statement will agree to do so. The Inquiry’s procedures in relation to public funding for legal assistance in connection with the statement-taking process are published on the website: see Funding Protocol. The Inquiry further reminds all who are asked to provide a witness statement of the evidential undertakings which apply to their evidence and which are also published on the website: see Undertakings section on Key Documents page.

The Inquiry will use its statutory powers to require individuals to give evidence should it become necessary to do so.

The Murder Investigation

Over the last nine months, Robert Ayling and his team of former police officers have been considering the vast amount of material generated by the police investigation of Rosemary Nelson’s murder. The sheer size of their task and the recent disclosure of important material have meant that it will not now be possible for them to provide the Inquiry with their provisional views by July, as was envisaged at the time of the Inquiry’s last Procedural Update (14 th December 2005). However, they intend to do so, in the form of a draft report, by September.

Following the Inquiry’s own consideration of it, the draft Ayling report will be supplied to the solicitor for those police officers who worked on the murder investigation (represented as Full Participants in this Inquiry by Mr Colin Port), for their initial comments. In the light of those comments, Mr Ayling will finalise his report and the Inquiry then hopes to disclose it to the other Full Participants.

The Draft Inquiry Bundle

Over the last weeks and months, the Inquiry has been considering how best to produce a focused and usable Bundle of relevant documents for the Full Hearings.

The first part of the draft Bundle will shortly be reviewed in detail by the Inquiry’s legal team. Once that process is complete, the Inquiry wishes to distribute it in draft form to the Full Participants as soon as possible, for them to consider and, in due course, to use in preparation for the Full Hearings.

However, the Inquiry has concluded that it cannot properly do so until two further procedural stages have been completed, namely the Inquiry’s determination of any applications for anonymity or redaction. To distribute the draft Bundle before then, on any basis, would be, at least potentially, to frustrate or undermine the purpose of those processes.

Applications for Anonymity

The Inquiry’s stance in relation to anonymity is set out in paragraph 38 of the Procedures Document. The Inquiry’s procedure under which applications for anonymity will be considered is set out in paragraphs 39 and 40 of the Procedures Document.

However, the Inquiry has, to date, received very few applications for anonymity from individuals or groups of individuals and none which is supported by the level of detailed supporting argument and/or evidence which is necessary for the Inquiry to arrive at final decisions.

The Inquiry requires any application for anonymity to be made, in writing and addressed to the Inquiry’s Solicitor, by4 pm on Friday 28th July 2006. In addition to making this announcement, the Inquiry will be writing to all Full Participants and to others engaged by the Inquiry’s work to the same effect.

The relatively short timescale permitted for such applications reflects the fact that the Inquiry’s procedures were published and made known over a year ago (on 23rdMay 2005) and the Inquiry’s determination that this process should not prejudice the start of the Full Hearings. 

Anonymity: the legal test

It may assist those considering their positions or the positions of their clients in respect of this question to have a short statement of the Inquiry’s intended approach to such applications.

The law requires the Inquiry to apply a three part test:

  • to consider the subjective fears which individuals have for their safety;
  • to assess whether there are reasonable grounds to show that those fears are objectively justified; and
  • to consider the extent to which those fears, and the grounds giving rise to them, would be alleviated by granting anonymity.

The law requires the Inquiry to apply common sense and common humanity in balancing the justification for granting anonymity with any adverse consequences for the Inquiry and its work which would result.

It follows that all applications should be supported by argument and/or evidence directed to establishing that the applicant meets the test set out above. The Inquiry will welcome group applications from employers or former employers or their representatives provided that they are supported by the detailed argument and/or evidence referred to above.

Anonymity: the decision-making process

On receipt of an application by the stipulated deadline, the Inquiry will seek such further information, evidence or submissions - from the applicant, from the family Full Participants or from others – as it believes appropriate. If necessary, the Inquiry will commission threat assessments.

 Thereafter, the Inquiry Panel will make its decisions and convey them to the applicants in writing, together with the Panel’s reasons.

In addition, if necessary, the Inquiry may decide to convene a hearing in relation to any application, at which representations may be made to the Panel orally.

To the extent possible, the Inquiry will make decisions and the reasons for them public.

Other submissions on Anonymity

The Inquiry would welcome submissions from Full Participants and others on its intended approach to the issue of anonymity, as set out above.

All such submissions should be in writing, should be addressed to the Inquiry’s Solicitor and are required to be made by4 pm on Friday 28thJuly 2006.

Redaction of documents

The Inquiry’s stance in relation to the further disclosure or publication of material disclosed to it is set out in paragraphs 20 to 27 of the Procedures Document. The Inquiry’s general position in respect of redaction and its procedure in relation to applications for the redaction of specific documents is set out in paragraphs 28 to 34 of the Procedures Document.

In relation to those documents which are under consideration by the Inquiry’s legal team for inclusion in the first part of the draft Inquiry Bundle, a very limited number of indications from document providers have been received by the Inquiry to the effect that parts of documents should, in their view, be redacted prior to further disclosure or publication.

However, for the avoidance of any doubt, once the Inquiry has concluded its review of the first part of the draft Inquiry Bundle, it will write to all document providers whose material has been selected for inclusion, requiring them to provide in writing, within two weeks, full and detailed reasons why any of that material should be redacted prior to further disclosure or publication.

 Once again, the relatively short timescale which will be imposed on all such applications reflects the length of time during which document providers have known of the Inquiry’s procedures in this regard (since publication of the Procedures Document on 23rdMay 2005) and the limited time between now and the start of the Full Hearings.

The Inquiry will, in any event, be making redactions to documents prior to further disclosure or publication in accordance with paragraphs 28 to 31 of the Procedures Document. No further submission in relation to the Inquiry’s approach, as there set out, is required.

The Full Hearings

As and when it is possible to do so, the Inquiry will give details of further procedural steps and of the timetable which will lead in to the Full Hearings.

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