The Inquiries Act 2005

Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Jun 23 2006, 05:50 PM #1


Edit: See also the dedicated Patrick Finucane / Shoot to kill thread here.
Since the events of July 7th there have been many calls for the government to hold a Public Inquiry (or enquiry, if you prefer) into what happened that day. The government has staunchly refused at every opportunity but, in reality, a Public Inquiry would be highly unlikely to provide any further insight into events that day owing to a piece of legislation known as the Public Inquiries Act 2005, which renders all Public Inquiries subject to state approval.

The Inquiries Act 2005 was passed in response to the notion that a Public Inquiry be held to investigate the killing of Pat Finucane in 1989. In the aftermath of his killing, evidence emerged that police and military intelligence agents had colluded with Loyalist paramilitaries in his murder, as well as allegations of an official cover-up of such collusion.

If The State will go to such great lengths to prevent inquiry into one death 16 years ago, it may be sensible to consider to what lengths the state will go to prevent further inquiry into 56 deaths in London on July 7th. Coincidentally, the Inquiries Act 2005 was enacted on June 7th 2005.

The Bill received widespread opposition from all sides including the Finucane family, the Law Society of England and Wales, Amnesty International and several other legal, human and civil rights organisations. They issued the following press release:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Public Statement

AI Index: EUR 45/008/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 69
22 March 2005

UK: The Inquiries Bill - the Wrong Answer
A Joint Statement by:

Amnesty International
British Irish rights watch
The Committee on the Administration of Justice
Human Rights First
The Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association
INQUEST
JUSTICE
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
The Law Society of England and Wales
Pat Finucane Centre
Scottish Human Rights Centre

22nd March 2005


The above-listed organisations jointly express our concern over some of the provisions of the Inquiries Bill introduced into Parliament on 24th November 2004. The Bill, being discussed this week by a Standing Committee of the House of Commons, would, if enacted, alter fundamentally the system for establishing and running inquiries into issues of great public importance in the UK, including allegations of serious human rights violations. Should it be passed into law, the effect of the Bill on individuals and cases that merit a public inquiry would be highly detrimental. In particular, in those cases where one or more person has died or been killed, the right of their surviving family members to know the truth about what happened and to an effective investigation could be violated by the operation of the Bill.

The fundamental problem contained in the Inquiries Bill is its shift in emphasis towards inquiries established and largely controlled by government Ministers. This shift is achieved by the repeal of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 and the terms of several of the Bill’s clauses. These clauses grant broad powers to the Minister establishing an inquiry on issues such as the setting of the terms of reference, restrictions on funding for an inquiry, suspension or termination of an inquiry, restrictions on public access to inquiry proceedings and to evidence submitted to an inquiry, and restrictions on public access to the final report of an inquiry. The Bill does not grant the independence to inquiry chairs and panels that has made their role so crucial in examining issues, particularly where public confidence has been undermined.

Several of us have already laid out our concerns about the Bill in earlier statements and briefings and we are pleased to note that some amendments to the Bill have already been adopted in the House of Lords. However, we continue to have serious concerns about the Bill in its current form and we urge all members of Parliament to take these concerns into account in their ongoing consideration of the Bill. We also wish to draw attention to the views expressed on this matter by the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, by the Public Administration Select Committee, and by two notable jurists, namely Lord Saville of Newdigate and former Canadian Supreme Court justice Judge Peter Cory.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has concluded that several provisions of the Bill may not be compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in that they would inhibit an effective investigation into cases involving deaths. For example, the Committee has expressed concern that "the threat of withdrawal of funding by the Minister could unduly constrain the independence of an inquiry, and fail to satisfy the Article 2 requirement of an independent inquiry." The Committee has further stated that "the independence of a tribunal is secured both by the institutional and legal structure in which it operates, and by the restraint and impartiality exercised in practice by those involved. Even given the proper restraint by Ministers in the exercise of powers considered above, their availability in respect of an inquiry would risk affecting its independence, both actual and perceived." With particular regard to the power of Ministers to issue restriction notices, the Committee concluded that "the independence of an inquiry is put at risk by ministerial power to issue these restrictions, and ...this lack of independence may fail to satisfy the Article 2 obligation to investigate..." It also was concerned that the ministerial power to withhold publication of all or part of an inquiry report is "wide enough to compromise the independence of an inquiry."

The Public Administration Select Committee also criticised many facets of the Inquiries Bill, in its report following its inquiry into "Government by Inquiry". In particular, the Committee expressed concern about Ministers conducting inquiries into their own or their department’s actions.

Published correspondence between Lord Saville, who chairs the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, and DCA Minister Baroness Ashton relating to the Bill is also of great importance, as it demonstrates the serious reservations of a senior judge and chair of a complex current inquiry. In particular, Lord Saville is concerned about the clause granting Ministers the power to issue notices restricting public access to inquiry proceedings and materials. In a letter of 26th January, Lord Saville states, "I take the view that this provision makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question." He further stated that neither he nor his fellow judges on the BSI would be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of that kind. Despite the addition in the House of Lords of a clause setting out a presumption of public access to inquiry proceedings, restriction notices issued by Ministers could still result in secret inquiries that would, as feared by Lord Saville, be "likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question."

On 15th March, 2005, Judge Peter Cory, a retired Canadian Supreme Court justice who was appointed by the British and Irish governments in 2002 to investigate allegations of state collusion in six controversial murder cases, wrote a letter expressing his own fears about the potential effects of the Inquiries Bill. He described the Bill as "unfortunate to say the least" and with specific reference to the case of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane stated, "It seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible." Judge Cory noted that "the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step" and he concluded that he "cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act".

We agree with all of these views and urge Parliament to take them very seriously. An inquiry held under the Bill as currently drafted would not be effective, independent, impartial or thorough, nor would the evidence presented to it be subject to sufficient public scrutiny. Such an inquiry would fall far short of the requirement of international human rights law that an effective remedy be provided to the victims of human rights violations. Moreover, the passage of the Inquiries Bill in its current form would do great harm to the tradition of public inquiries in the UK and would undermine the important principles of accountability and transparency. In order to command public confidence, it is absolutely necessary that an inquiries system permit close independent public scrutiny and provide for the active participation of the relevant victims. The Inquiries Bill does not do this.

Source: Amnesty International
One month previously, February 2005, Amnesty International had issued the following press release to mark the 16th anniversary of the murder of Pat Finucane:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

AI Index: EUR 45/003/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 034

11 February 2005

UK: The government must withdraw the Inquiries Bill and act on its promise

On the eve of the 16th anniversary of the murder of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane, Amnesty International is reiterating that only a public independent inquiry can deliver the truth about his death and ensure that the rule of law is upheld.

"Only a public inquiry established under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 will be able to shed light on collusion by state agents with Loyalist paramilitaries; on reports that Patrick Finucane's death was the result of state policy; and on allegations that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his killing," Amnesty International said.

The UK government has reneged on its promise to act on the recommendation of Justice Cory, a former Canadian Supreme Court judge, that a public inquiry be held in the case of Patrick Finucane. Instead it has stated that Patrick Finucane's case would be the subject of an inquiry under the new Inquiries Bill now going through parliament. The government has also stated that the Bill aims to take account of "the requirements of national security".

Amnesty International believes that the UK government is trying to eliminate independent scrutiny of its agents' actions by introducing the new Inquiries Bill. The organization is concerned that the enactment of this Bill would mean the repeal of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921.

"An inquiry under the Inquiries Bill would not be effective, independent, impartial or thorough. Nor would it provide for public scrutiny of all the relevant evidence," Amnesty International said.

"This Bill will affect not only Patrick Finucane's case, but also other major incidents which would warrant public scrutiny of the actions of the state. For example failures of public services, deaths in prisons, rail disasters, army deaths in disputed circumstances, etc."

Amnesty International fears that, if enacted, the Inquiries Bill would represent the death knell of any possibility of public scrutiny of and accountability for state abuses. In addition, any inquiry under this legislation would fall far short of the requirements in international human rights law and standards for effective remedies for victims of human rights violations and their families.

Amnesty International calls for the withdrawal of this draft legislation and for the government to engage in a serious consultation process about any future changes in the running of public inquiries. Public inquiries are one of the most critical mechanisms to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are upheld.

Background
Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot dead in his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 12 February 1989 by Loyalist paramilitaries. In the aftermath of his killing, prima facie evidence of criminal conduct by police and military intelligence agents acting in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing has emerged. In addition, allegations have emerged of a subsequent cover-up by different government agencies and authorities.

In May 2002, the UK and Irish governments appointed Justice Peter Cory to investigate a number of killings in which official collusion was alleged, including in the killing of Patrick Finucane.

In April 2004, the UK authorities published Justice Cory's reports but refused to announce a public inquiry into Patrick Finucane's case despite the unequivocal conclusion that in his case "only a public inquiry will suffice".

On 16 September 2004, Kenneth Barrett, a former loyalist paramilitary, was convicted of, and sentenced for, the murder of Patrick Finucane.

Instead of announcing a public judicial inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, the government has hastily put forward the Inquiries Bill to Parliament. There was no consultation prior to the publication of the Bill in the form of a white paper or concrete proposals.

Under the Inquiries Bill:
  • </li>
  • the inquiry and its terms of reference would be decided by the executive; no independent parliamentary scrutiny of these decisions would be allowed;
  • the chair of the inquiry would be appointed by the executive and the executive would have the discretion to sack any member of the inquiry;
  • the decision on whether the inquiry, or any individual hearings, would be held in public or private would be taken by the executive;
  • the decision to issue restrictive notices to block disclosure of evidence would be taken by the executive;
  • the final report of the inquiry would be published at the executive's discretion and crucial evidence could be omitted at the executive's discretion, "in the public interest".

Public Document
****************************************
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: http://www.amnesty.org

For latest human rights news view http://news.amnesty.org

AI Index: EUR 45/003/2005&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; 11 February 2005

Source: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur450032005
When the act was finally passed, Amnesty urged all judges, whether in the United Kingdom (UK) or in other jurisdictions, to decline appointments as chairs or panel members to any inquiry established under the recently enacted Inquiries Act 2005 with the following announcement:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PRESS RELEASE


AI Index: EUR 45/010/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 099
20 April 2005

UK: Amnesty International urges judiciary not to partake in inquiry sham
Amnesty International calls on all judges, whether in the United Kingdom (UK) or in other jurisdictions, to decline appointments as chairs or panel members to any inquiry established under the recently enacted Inquiries Act 2005, including an inquiry into allegations of state collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane. The organization is also urging the Act's repeal.

Amnesty International supports the call of Geraldine Finucane, Patrick Finucane's widow, to all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland not to serve on an inquiry into her husband's case held under the new legislation.

"By proposing to hold an inquiry into the Finucane case under the Inquiries Act 2005, the UK government is trying to eliminate independent scrutiny of the actions of its agents. Any judge sitting on such an inquiry would be presiding over a sham," Amnesty International said.

Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot dead in his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 12 February 1989 by Loyalist paramilitaries. In the aftermath of his killing, prima facie evidence of criminal conduct by police and military intelligence agents, acting in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries in his murder, emerged. In addition, allegations have emerged of a subsequent cover-up by different government agencies and authorities.

In April 2004, an independent report, commissioned by the UK and Irish governments, concluded that "only a public inquiry will suffice" in Patrick Finucane's case.

Instead, in the face of strong criticism and opposition, the UK executive railroaded the Inquiries Bill through Parliament and managed to have it passed as legislation as the Inquiries Act 2005 on 7 April 2005, the last possible day before Parliament was dissolved. Any inquiry, held under the new Act, would be controlled by the executive which, under it, is empowered to block public scrutiny of state actions. It will affect not only Patrick Finucane's case, but also other major incidents which would warrant public scrutiny of the actions of the state, such as failures of public services, deaths in prisons, rail disasters and army deaths in disputed circumstances.

"The Inquiries Act 2005 undermines the rule of law, the separation of powers and human rights protection. It cannot be the foundation for an effective, independent, impartial or thorough judicial inquiry in serious allegations of human rights violations. Nor would it provide for public scrutiny of all the relevant evidence," Amnesty International said.

"The Inquiries Act 2005 deals a fatal blow to any possibility of public scrutiny of and accountability for state abuses. Any inquiry under this legislation would automatically fall far short of the requirements in international human rights law and standards for effective remedies for victims of human rights violations and their families. One of the first tasks of the new UK Parliament should be to immediately repeal the Act."

Once again, Amnesty International calls on the UK authorities to immediately establish a truly independent judicial inquiry into collusion by state agents with Loyalist paramilitaries in Patrick Finucane's murder; into reports that his killing was the result of state policy; and into allegations that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his murder.

Background
In May 2002, the UK and Irish governments appointed Justice Peter Cory, formerly a Judge in the Canadian Supreme Court, to investigate a number of killings in which official collusion was alleged, including the killing of Patrick Finucane. In April 2004, the UK authorities published Justice Cory's reports but refused at that time to announce a public inquiry into Patrick Finucane's case.

Instead of announcing a public judicial inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, the government eventually announced that it would introduce new legislation under which an inquiry into the Finucane case would be established. There was no consultation prior to the publication of the Bill. The new Inquiries Act 2005 repeals the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921.

Under the new Act:
  • </li>
  • the inquiry and its terms of reference would be decided by the executive; no independent parliamentary scrutiny of these decisions would be allowed;
  • each member of an inquiry panel, including the chair of the inquiry, would be appointed by the executive and the executive would have the discretion to dismiss any member of the inquiry;
  • the executive can impose restrictions on public access to the inquiry, including on whether the inquiry, or any individual hearings, would be held in public or private;
  • the executive can also impose restrictions on disclosure or publication of any evidence or documents given, produced or provided to an inquiry;
  • the final report of the inquiry would be published at the executive's discretion and crucial evidence could be omitted at the executive's discretion, "in the public interest".
Lord Saville of Newdigate, the chair of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal of Inquiry, pointed out that the Inquiries Act 2005 "makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry; and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings". Lord Saville also said: "As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind."

Judge Peter Cory with specific reference to the possibility of an inquiry into the Finucane case held under the Inquiries Act 2005 stated: "It seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible."


Public Document
****************************************
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: http://www.amnesty.org

For latest human rights news view http://news.amnesty.org

Source: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur450102005
Independent Public Inquiry, Indpendent Public Enquiry, Independent Inquiry or Independent Enquiry (i.e. not public, save for nonsense items as contained in the offiicial government narrative of July 7th) are all subject to the scope of a piece of legislation which respected organisations oppose, and actively encourage dissent against, in relation to investigating the horrific killing of one man.

If, as it would appear, the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 are counter to the interests of truth and justice, and that they provide a flawed framework of Inquiry into the brutal murder of one man, in front of his family, sixteen years ago, should the British Public really accept such a widely condemned Act as the framework for further inquiry into the deaths of 56 people on July 7th?
"We need an official inquiry - now. Not a whitewash inquiry like Lord Hutton's. Or a punch-pulling inquiry like Lord Butler's. But an inquiry run by plain Mr or Mrs somebody." - Lt. Col. Crispin Black
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Jun 23 2006, 06:34 PM #2

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

UK – The Finucane Case: Judiciary must not take part in inquiry sham


On 12 February 1989, Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot dead at his home in front of his wife and children in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Loyalist paramilitaries.

In the aftermath of his killing, evidence emerged that police and military intelligence agents had colluded with Loyalist paramilitaries in his murder, as well as allegations of an official cover-up of such collusion.

In April 2004 an independent report, commissioned by the UK and Irish governments, concluded that "only a public inquiry will suffice" in the Finucane case.

Instead, the UK government has said it will set up an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act 2005.

Under the Act, any inquiry would be controlled by the executive which is empowered to block public scrutiny of state actions. The Act undermines the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and human rights protection. It cannot be the foundation for an effective, independent, impartial or thorough judicial inquiry into serious allegations of human rights violations.

Amnesty International is calling on:
  • </li>
  • the UK authorities to establish immediately a truly independent public inquiry into the Finucane case;
  • all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as on judges in other common law countries, not to serve on an inquiry into Patrick Finucane’s case if held under the Inquiries Act 2005.
Take action!

Please write to the three senior judges below to request that they notify all judges in England, Wales and Scotland about Amnesty International’s concerns regarding the holding of an inquiry into the Finucane case under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Please send appeals to:

Lord Bingham of Cornhill
The Senior Law Lord
Law Lords Corridor
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW
United Kingdom
Salutation: Dear Lord Bingham

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Woolf
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2A 2LL
United Kingdom
Salutation: Dear Lord Woolf

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Cullen of Whitekirk
Lord President
The Supreme Court
11 Parliament Square
Edinburgh EH1 1RQ
Scotland
United Kingdom
Salutation: Dear Lord Cullen

Please let us know if you have taken this action

You can copy and paste the sample letter below into an e-mail or a document to print out.
Dear Lord [add surname],

I am writing to express my concern over the UK government’s stated intention to hold an inquiry into Patrick Finucane’s case under the Inquiries Act 2005.&nbsp;

As you may know, more than 16 years after the killing of Patrick Finucane -- an outspoken human rights lawyer -- by Loyalist paramilitaries with the alleged collusion of police and military agents, the UK government continues to refuse to hold a truly independent public inquiry into these allegations. The Inquiries Act 2005 empowers the UK authorities to block public scrutiny of state actions and undermines the independence of the judiciary. Any inquiry held under such legislation would fall far short of international human rights standards.&nbsp; Amnesty International considers that any judge sitting on such an inquiry would be presiding over a sham.&nbsp;

Geraldine Finucane, Patrick Finucane’s widow, has recently called on all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland not to serve on an inquiry into her husband’s case held under this new legislation.&nbsp;

In light of the above, I urge you to ensure that all members of the judiciary in your jurisdiction are made aware of these extremely serious concerns.&nbsp;

Amnesty International is urging those members of the judiciary who may be approached by the UK authorities to sit on an inquiry into the Finucane case held under the Inquiries Act 2005 to decline to do so.&nbsp;

I thank you in advance for your urgent attention to the concerns expressed in this letter.

Yours sincerely,
Source: Amnesty International
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Nov 21 2006, 12:42 AM #3

Davide Simonetti, of Nether World infamy, has launched a petition on the Number 10 web site calling for a 7/7 Public Inquiry which, yet again, fails to even mention, much less tackle, the issue of the Inquiries Act 2005.

BTW, this is the same David Simonetti that promised to link to the Release The Evidence petition, back in August 2006, and still hasn't.

*yawn*
Petition for an inquiry into the London bombings of July 7 2005

Since I started this blog nearly a year ago, I have been campaigning for a full public inquiry into the London bombings of July 7 last year. I don't know if we are any closer to having such an inquiry but it's been a while since I last posted anything about that atrocity.

Last week, Downing Street launched a new E-Petition service on its website. The service was put together by those clever people at MySociety who are also responsible for TheyWorkForYou, Write To Them and PledgeBank.

Whilst I share the cynicism expressed by Justin at Chicken Yoghurt, I decided it wouldn't hurt to create a petition and see what happens. So I have created a petition on the Downing Street site asking for a full public inquiry into the London bombings of July 7. Downing Street contacted me today and informed me that my petition has been approved and is now on-line.
The petition reads:

&nbsp; &nbsp; We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to hold a full public inquiry into the London bombings of July 7 2005. More than a year after that terrible atrocity that killed at least 52 people and maimed many more, there still hasn't been a full public inquiry into that event. The "Narrative" and the ISC report we were given are insufficient. We've had public inquiries into far less serious events, why not this? We now know that the attacks did not come "out of the blue" as was asserted by the Home Secretary at the time.

If you feel, as I do, that we need a proper inquiry into the July 7 bombings, please sign the petition. Unfortunately this petition is only open to British citizens or residents. For those who aren't, there is still this petition which I also urge people to sign. Various polls have shown that most people think that there should be a public inquiry into last year's bombings. The refusal of the Government to hold one is adding to conspiracy theories and speculation that the Government has something to hide. Until we learn the lessons from July 7, we are even more likely to suffer a similar attack. Just because July 7 hasn't been in the news lately, it doesn't mean that efforts to get a public inquiry have ceased. Please help send a message to the Government that demands for an inquiry are not going away. You can do this by signing the petition, posting it on your blog if you have one and by writing to your MP.
Here is the petition

Thank you
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Nov 21 2006, 01:29 AM #4

And, as if the point needed making that it's just Geraldine Finucane and family, J7 and last, but most definitely not least, the judiciary who are in favour of boycotting inquiries under the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005, the MCB have a rather dubious approach to a judicial inquiry into the events of 7th July 2005:
T HE M U S L I M C O U N C I L O F B R I T A I N
Boardman House, 64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NT
Tel 020 8432 0585 Fax 0208 432 0587 E-mail admin@mcb.org.uk
http://www.mcb.org.uk

BRIEFING FOR A JUDICIAL INQUIRY


The tragedy of 7 July 2005 and the events of 21 July 2005 have led many politicians to rush to judgments about the causes of the bombings in Britain. They suggest that the cause is “perversion of Islam” and describe the motivation for these acts of terror as “the evil ideology.” These suggestions are speculative and lack evidentiary foundation.

As a direct result of these suggestions, some politicians and opinion formers have started to question the basic precepts of our society. The value and need for Multiculturism is now up for debate as is the “Britishness of Muslims”.

The security of our society cannot and should not be compromised on any account. It is therefore of crucial importance that we find out, in an objective and transparent manner, the reasons that have led young Muslims to engage in acts of terror and murder against their own fellow citizens. We cannot address this shocking phenomenon unless we know the causes. Misdirected action has the potential to make matters far worse for the future. We fear that such misdirected action can be brought about by hasty or erroneous judgment on causes. We could as a consequence end up living in a fragmented society, deeply suspicious and resentful of each other.

The Muslim community is committed to play its full role in getting to the bottom of this horrendous problem but it cannot do so without the active support of the government. It is the duty of the government to protect its citizens and in order to discharge that duty it is imperative for our government to do all it can to find the true reasons for such alienation and hostility to a section of the youth in a faith group as to blow themselves up to cause mayhem and terror.

It is in this context that the Muslim Council of Britain calls for a Statutory Inquiry in accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005, which provides for inquires into events that ‘cause public concern’. We ask that an Inquiry panel is immediately established, which is chaired by an eminent Judge preferably a Law Lord who has a track record on issues of equality and cultural sensitivity.

We ask that Muslims of appropriate qualifications, skills and experience are included in the Inquiry panel and in the assessors selected. This is imperative as Statutory Inquiries have an inquisitorial mandate. Inquisitorial as opposed to adversarial process by its very nature demands greater public confidence and acceptability. The requisite public confidence and acceptability will not be forthcoming if the participation and active involvement of the Muslim community is not ensured at all stages of the Inquiry including the planning stage.

The Terms of Reference recommended for the Inquiry by the MCB are:

To enquire into the events of 7 and 21 July 2005 and to identify the causes and other associated factors including matters that particularly affect the Muslim Community in Britain and to make recommendations to facilitate for a cohesive, just and safe society for all.

T HE M U S L I M C O U N C I L O F B R I T A I N
Boardman House, 64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NT
Tel 020 8432 0585 Fax 0208 432 0587 E-mail admin@mcb.org.uk
http://www.mcb.org.uk
Further details in the MCB briefing PDF.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: Dec 7 2005, 03:21 PM

Nov 21 2006, 11:23 AM #5

And that's after the first paragraph:
They suggest that the cause is “perversion of Islam” and describe the motivation for these acts of terror as “the evil ideology.” These suggestions are speculative and lack evidentiary foundation.
Funnily enough I've just been raising awareness of the IA2005 over on another forum in response to another poster writing about a petition he's done, using the same facility as Davide Simonetti, asking for our government to get involved in pushing for a new investigation into 9/11! An attack happening a good deal more recently and on our own doorstep apparently doesn't mean very much to some 9/11 activists.
"We are not democrats for, among other reasons, democracy sooner or later leads to war and dictatorship. Just as we are not supporters of dictatorships, among other things, because dictatorship arouses a desire for democracy, provokes a return to democracy, and thus tends to perpetuate a vicious circle in which human society oscillates between open and brutal tyranny and a lying freedom." - Errico Malatesta, Democracy and Anarchy 1924
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Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Nov 21 2006, 12:23 PM #6

Kier @ Nov 21 2006, 11:23 AM wrote: An attack happening a good deal more recently and on our own doorstep apparently doesn't mean very much to some 9/11 activists.
And, there-in, perhaps, you have one of the main motivating reasons behind the great efforts put into bothering to have, and maintaining, a 9/11 Truth Movement in any country other than America.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Jan 16 2007, 11:55 PM #7

A summary of the Inquiries Act from British Irish Rights Watch:
SUMMARY AND CRITIQUE OF THE INQUIRIES ACT 2005

THE INQUIRIES ACT 2005


The full text of the Act can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2005/20050012.htm

The Explanatory Notes can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/en2005/2005en12.htm


1. summary of the main provisions of the act

reasons for setting up inquiries


Under s. 1 of the Act any government Minister can set up an inquiry if

(a) particular events have caused, or are capable of causing, public concern, or

(b) there is public concern that particular events may have occurred.

powers of inquiries

An inquiry panel does not have the power to determine any person’s civil or criminal liability (s. 2).

The chair has the power to compel witnesses and the production of documents and other evidence (s. 21).&nbsp; &nbsp;

inquiry panels

An inquiry can be conducted by a single chair or a chair sitting with other panel members (s. 3).

Panel members are all appointed by the Minister.&nbsp; If there are more than one panel members, then the person the Minister appoints to chair the inquiry must be consulted about the appointment of the other members. (s.&nbsp; 4)&nbsp; The Minister may at any time appoint further panel members to fill a vacancy or increase the number of panel members (s. 7).&nbsp; In appointing a member of the inquiry panel, the Minister must have regard—

(a) to the need to ensure that the inquiry panel (considered as a whole) has the necessary expertise to undertake the inquiry;

(b) in the case of an inquiry panel consisting of a chairman and one or more other members, to the need for balance (considered against the background of the terms of reference) in the composition of the panel. (s.8)

If a judge is appointed to an inquiry panel, the Minister must first consult the Lord Chief Justice (or his equivalent in other jurisdictions) (s. 10).&nbsp; The Minister may also appoint assessors with the necessary expertise to assist the inquiry panel (s. 11).

The Minister must not appoint a person as a member of the inquiry panel if it appears to the Minister that the person has—

(a) a direct interest in the matters to which the inquiry relates, or

(b) a close association with an interested party,

unless, despite the person’s interest or association, his appointment could not reasonably be regarded as affecting the impartiality of the inquiry panel. (s. 9)

The Minister may at any time terminate the appointment of a member of an inquiry panel—

(a) on the ground that, by reason of physical or mental illness or for any other reason, the member is unable to carry out the duties of a member of the inquiry panel;

(b) on the ground that the member has failed to comply with any duty imposed on him by this Act;

&copy; on the ground that the member has—

(i) a direct interest in the matters to which the inquiry relates, or

(ii) a close association with an interested party, such that his membership of the inquiry panel could reasonably be regarded as affecting its impartiality (unless these were known to the Minister at the time of the appointment);

(d) on the ground that the member has, since his appointment, been guilty of any misconduct that makes him unsuited to membership of the inquiry panel.

Before terminating an appointment the Minister must consult the chair, allow the person to make representations, and consult the other panel members if the person so requests.&nbsp; (s. 12)

terms of reference

The Minister decides the terms of reference of an inquiry and may amend them at any time if s/he considers that the public interest so requires.&nbsp; In setting or amending the terms of reference, the Minister must consult the chair, but is not obliged to consult any other person.&nbsp; The terms of reference are defined as including:

(a) the matters to which the inquiry relates;

(b) any particular matters as to which the inquiry panel is to determine the facts;

&copy; whether the inquiry panel is to make recommendations;

(d) any other matters relating to the scope of the inquiry that the Minister may specify.&nbsp; (s. 5)

informing parliament

The Minister must as soon as is reasonably practicable make a written or oral statement the relevant Parliament or Assembly, stating

(a) who is to be, or has been, appointed as chairman of the inquiry;

(b) whether the Minister has appointed, or proposes to appoint, any other members to the inquiry panel, and if so how many;

&copy; what are to be, or are, the inquiry’s terms of reference.

A statement must also be made if the terms of reference are amended. (s. 6)&nbsp; Parliament does not have the power to debate this statement

The Minister sets the date when the inquiry will start, and the inquiry may not begin its deliberations before that date (s. 5).

suspension of an inquiry

The Minister may at any time, after consulting the chair, suspend an inquiry for such period as appears to him to be necessary to allow for—

(a) the completion of any other investigation relating to any of the matters to which the inquiry relates, or

(b) the determination of any civil or criminal proceedings (including proceedings before a disciplinary tribunal) arising out of any of those matters. (s.13)

The Minister must give reasons for suspending the inquiry and lay a copy of the notice, as soon as is reasonably practicable, before the relevant Parliament or Assembly. (s.13)

termination of an inquiry

The Minister may terminate an inquiry at any time.&nbsp; If s/he does so before the inquiry has delivered its report, the Minister must consult the chair, set out the reasons, and notify Parliament.&nbsp; (s.14)

conversion of inquiries


Any inquiry set up under other arrangements can be converted into an inquiry under the Inquiries Act provided the person who set up the original inquiry (who may, of course, be the same Minister) consents.&nbsp; The Minister may also, with the consent of the chair, amend the inquiry’s original terms of reference.&nbsp; S/he can also appoint different panel members.&nbsp; (s.15)

practice and procedure

The procedure and conduct of an inquiry are to be decided by the chair, who has the power to hear evidence under oath.&nbsp; The chair must act with fairness and with regard also to the need to avoid any unnecessary cost. (s. 17)&nbsp; However, the Lord Chancellor (and other office-holders in other jurisdictions) has the power to make rules for practice and procedures during inquiries (s.41).&nbsp; The Department of Constitutional Affairs has put out a document discussing potential rules and says it will carry out a consultation exercise in 2005.

public access

The chair must take such reasonable steps to enable members of the public and reporters to attend the inquiry or to see and hear a simultaneous transmission of proceedings at the inquiry, and to obtain or to view a record of evidence and documents given, produced or provided to the inquiry or inquiry panel (s. 18). However, the chair has the power to issue a restriction order limiting or preventing

(a) attendance at an inquiry, or at any particular part of an inquiry;

(b) disclosure or publication of any evidence or documents given, produced or provided to an inquiry.&nbsp;

The Minister has the same powers, by issuing a restriction notice.&nbsp; (s. 18)&nbsp;

restriction orders and notices

Any restriction notice or order must be conducive to the inquiry fulfilling its terms of reference or be necessary in the public interest.&nbsp; The person issuing the notice or order must have regard to:

(a) the extent to which any restriction on attendance, disclosure or publication might inhibit the allaying of public concern;

(b) any risk of harm or damage that could be avoided or reduced by any such restriction;&nbsp; “Harm or damage” includes:

(i) death or injury;

(ii) damage to national security or international relations;

(iii) damage to the economic interests of the United Kingdom or of any part of the United Kingdom (unless the public interest in the information being revealed outweighs the public interest in avoiding a risk of damage to the economy –

s. 23);

(iv) damage caused by disclosure of commercially sensitive information.

&copy; any conditions as to confidentiality subject to which a person acquired information that he is to give, or has given, to the inquiry;

(d) the extent to which not imposing any particular restriction would be

likely—

(i) to cause delay or to impair the efficiency or effectiveness of the inquiry, or

(ii) otherwise to result in additional cost (whether to public funds or to witnesses or others).&nbsp; (s.18)

After the end of an inquiry the Minister may

(a) revoke a restriction order or restriction notice containing disclosure restrictions that are still in force, or

(b) vary it so as to remove or relax any of the restrictions. (s. 20)

Equally, restriction notices and orders may remain in force indefinitely.

public interest immunity

The rules on public interest immunity apply to inquiries in the same way as they do in the civil courts (s. 22).

reports

Inquiries must deliver a report to the Minister setting out the facts determined by the inquiry panel and their recommendations.&nbsp; There is no provision for dissenting reports, but if the panel is not unanimous the report must reasonably reflect any disagreements.&nbsp; (s. 23)&nbsp; The chair is responsible for publishing the report, unless the Minister decides to take over that responsibility.&nbsp; Reports should be published in full but the person responsible for publishing a report may withhold material

(a) as is required by any statutory provision, enforceable Community obligation or rule of law, or

(b) as the person considers to be necessary in the public interest.

The public interest is defined in the same way as it is for the purposes of restriction notices and orders. (s. 25)&nbsp; Reports must be laid before Parliament (s. 26).&nbsp; There is is no provision for debating such reports.

judicial review

Any judicial review of a decision made by a Minister in relation to an inquiry or by the inquiry itself must be lodged within 14 days, which is shorter than the usual time limit of 3 months.

withholding the costs of an inquiry

If a Minister thinks an inquiry has acted outside its terms of reference, s/he can refuse to pay for that aspect of the inquiry (s. 39).

limitations on inquiries in scotland and wales

Inquiries which are the responsibility of the Scottish Ministers may not determine any fact or make any recommendation that is not wholly or primarily concerned with a Scottish matter.&nbsp; The Chair’s powers to compel witnesses and disclosure of documents apply only to Scottish matters.&nbsp; (s. 28)&nbsp; There are identical provisions in respect of an inquiry that is the responsibility of the National Assembly for Wales (s. 29).&nbsp;

limitations on inquiries in northern ireland

Similar provisions apply in Northern Ireland where a Northern Ireland Minister is responsible for the inquiry.&nbsp; Additionally, a Northern Ireland Minister may not order an inquiry into any event occurring prior to 2nd December 1999, when devolution took place in Northern Ireland, or during any period when the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended.&nbsp; Northern Ireland inquiries may only deal with matters that have been transferred to Northern Ireland under devolution; they cannot look into excepted matters such as national security.&nbsp; (s. 30)

repeal of other legislation governing inquiries

The Inquiries Act repeals other legislation previously governing inquiries, most notably the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, which governed public inquiries.


2. CRITIQUE OF THE INQUIRIES ACT

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; The Inquiries Act has brought about a fundamental shift in the manner in which the actions of government and public bodies can be subjected to scrutiny in the United Kingdom.&nbsp; The powers of independent chairs to control inquiries has been usurped and those powers have been placed in the hands of government Ministers.&nbsp; The Minister:

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; decides whether there should be an inquiry

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; sets its terms of reference

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; can amend its terms of reference

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; appoints its members

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; can restrict public access to inquiries

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; can prevent the publication of evidence placed before an inquiry

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; can prevent the publication of the inquiry’s report

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; can suspend or terminate an inquiry

·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; can withhold the costs of any part of an inquiry which strays beyond the terms of reference set by the Minister.

Parliament’s role has been reduced to that of the passive recipient of information about inquiries, whereas under the 1921 Act reports of public inquiries were made to Parliament.&nbsp; Now, not only is there no guarantee that any inquiry will be public, but inquiry reports will go to the Minister.

The Minister’s role is particularly troubling where the actions of that Minister or those of his or her department, or those of the government, are in question.&nbsp; In effect, the state will be investigating itself.&nbsp; In our view, the Inquiries Act is at odds with the United Nations’ Updated Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity.

Where Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which protects the right to life) is engaged, the Inquiries Act is at variance with the United Nations’ Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.&nbsp; Indeed, we doubt that the Inquiries Act can deliver an effective investigation in compliance with Article 2.&nbsp; The Minister’s powers to interfere in every important aspect of an inquiry robs it of any independence.&nbsp; Even if a Minister were to refrain from exercising those powers that are discretionary, s/he still has absolute power over whether there should be an inquiry at all and over its terms of reference.&nbsp; There is no scope for victims to be involved in or even consulted about the process.

Lord Saville, who chaired one of the most complex public inquiries in UK legal history, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, has expressed grave reservations about the Act.&nbsp; In a letter to Baroness Ashton at the Department of Constitutional Affairs, dated 26th January 2005, he voiced particular concern about restriction notices and orders, saying:

“I take the view that this provision makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question.”&nbsp;

He added that such ministerial interference with a judge’s ability to act impartially and independently of government would be unjustifiable.&nbsp; He further stated that neither he nor his fellow judges on the BSI would be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of that kind.

Lord Norton, who is Professor of Government at the University of Hull, said during parliamentary debate about the Inquiries Bill:

“Given the powers vested in a Minister, one has to wonder who would accept appointment to serve on an inquiry if independence were not guaranteed.”[1]



JUNE 2005


[1]&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Hansard, House of Lords, 9 December 2004, col 1002

Source: British Irish Rights Watch
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