Current Key Documents

First Procedural Update, 14th December 2005

In the Chairman's Opening Statement, delivered at the Opening Hearing in Craigavon on 19th April 2005, he described the approach which the Inquiry intended to take to its work, outlined the work done to that point and gave some information as to the future course of the Inquiry.


Following that hearing, and in the light of the submissions which it had received, the Inquiry issued its List of Issues on 12thMay and its Procedures Document,setting out the procedures which it intended to follow in its work, on 23rdMay.

Assisting the Inquiry

In June, the Inquiry issued its Funding Protocol, in relation to the question of public funding for legal representation for those whom the Inquiry wishes to assist it in its work.

In July, the Inquiry published details of Undertakings given by the Attorney General (in relation to subsequent criminal proceedings) and the heads of the Home Civil Service, Northern Ireland Civil Service, Ministry of Defence and Police Service of Northern Ireland (in relation to subsequent disciplinary proceedings) in respect of the later use of evidence, documents or information given to the Inquiry. (See Undertakings section on Key Documents page.)

The Inquiry believes that these measures will help to encourage witnesses and others to give the Inquiry the maximum degree of co-operation.

The Police Murder Investigation

In May, the Inquiry announced the appointment of 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 assess the quality of the police investigation of Rosemary Nelson’s murder, when measured against applicable standards of best practice at the relevant times.

Over the summer, Mr Ayling put together his team and they began work in Northern Ireland in September. The amount of material generated during the many years of the murder investigation is immense, but it is hoped that Mr Ayling will provide the Inquiry with his provisional views by July 2006.

Witness Statements

In June, the Inquiry announced the appointment, following a tender process, of Eversheds LLP as the Inquiry’s witness statement takers. The Eversheds team of lawyers, under partner Peter Watkin Jones, has been assembled and has undertaken substantial preparatory reading.

The Eversheds team expect to begin their work in Northern Ireland in January 2006. The Inquiry hopes that letters to the first group of individuals from whom the Inquiry wishes a statement to be taken will be sent out in the next few weeks.

The Full Hearings

In the course of the nearly eight months of work which the Inquiry has undertaken since the Opening Hearing, there has been a marked increase in the complexity of the issues which the Inquiry will have to consider within its Terms of Reference and in the amount and range of the documentation and other material pertaining to those issues which has been disclosed to the Inquiry.

This has had two main consequences. First, it is now apparent that, in order to discharge the tasks conferred on it, the Inquiry will need to obtain witness statements from several hundred witnesses.  Secondly, the process of analysing and ordering the material disclosed to it and of assessing the implications for the Inquiry and others of that part of the disclosed material which is sensitive, has proved to be a huge and continuing task.

In his Opening Statement, the Chairman indicated that, at that stage, the Inquiry’s aim was to begin the Full Hearings in the spring of 2006, but also made it clear that, for those Hearings to be conducted as efficiently as possible, it would be necessary to prepare for them fully and properly and that the Inquiry intended to take the time it needed to get at the truth.

It is clear to the Inquiry that it will not be possible to begin its Full Hearings in the spring of next year. On the assumption that the Inquiry will continue to receive from Full Participants, document providers, witnesses and others the level of co-operation which has been forthcoming to date, the Inquiry’s best estimate is that it will require a further year of hard work to prepare properly for its Full Hearings.

The Inquiry believes that there is merit in fixing a date for the start of the Full Hearings at this stage. This will help to focus the efforts of all those who are involved in or affected by the work of the Inquiry. It will also assist them with their future planning and arrangements.

The Inquiry intends to begin the Full Hearings on Tuesday 16thJanuary 2007, in Belfast.

The Inquiry expects in due course to issue a procedural timetable leading up to the Full Hearings and procedural rules governing the conduct of those Hearings.

The Inquiry repeats its request to all those with documentation, information or evidence which they believe might assist the Inquiry with its work to contact the Inquiry Solicitor, Michael Fitzgerald, without delay.

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