The long awaited Chilcot report arrives this week and commentators are already giving warnings to other inquiries of lessons to be learnt. Meanwhile the Goddard Inquiry becomes more active announcing the position on broadcasting of the first four investigations.
The Chilcot report is due for publication on Wednesday. It has considered evidence from more than 150,000 documents and heard from over 150 witnesses. It has been beset by a catalogue of delays and taken seven years to complete. Lord Morris of Aberavon, the former Attorney General, has noted that had the terms of reference been more tightly drawn then the report might have been published sooner. The IICSA has very wide terms of reference and given the scope of the already announced investigations, with no doubt more to follow, it seems likely to have to consider far more than 150,000 documents and to hear from more than 150 witnesses. Lord Morris has himself noted “We don’t seem to be learning any lessons. The historic sex abuse inquiry under New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, they don’t seem to have learnt there because I think she will be here for many, many years conducting that inquiry.”
When the first four preliminary hearings were held representations were sought regarding broadcasting of the full hearings. Determination has now been made on what approach will be taken in that regard. Whilst it is noted that the approach is not a one size fits all across all hearings, it appears likely to be the default position unless there are specific reasons to differ. That default position involves:
- Designated seating for the media in the hearing room and an overflow room showing live video of proceedings with a five minute delay
- Granting permission for the use of live text-based communications from the hearing room
- Providing live transcription of proceedings visible within the Inquiry Room
- Posting transcripts of oral evidence to the website
In making her determination, the Chair has noted the many issues and challenges which arise in connection with ensuring anonymity, transparency and accountability. To address these, the hearings will be broadcast via a live-stream on the Inquiry’s website, but it will be subject to a five minute delay which will mean the broadcast will be edited in specified circumstances. Transcripts will be similarly redacted. Provision will be made for anonymised core participants and witnesses to give their evidence in open hearing without the press or public present; with filming of the panel and voices subject to distortion.
Written by Paula Jefferson, Partner