A senior civil servant from the Ministry of Defence is to tell the House of Lords Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005, on Wednesday 27 November, how it intends to run the large number of investigations into alleged military misconduct in Iraq.
The Lords Committee is investigating how well the Inquiries Act 2005 ensures that public inquiries are carried out as effectively and thoroughly as possible.
This week the Committee will be asking a Ministry of Defence official how it intends to set up new inquiries into allegations of ill-treatment by British forces in the Iraq war. There are up to 160 allegations by relatives of Iraqis who died between 2003 and 2009 that they died by involvement of the British forces in circumstances which require an investigation under European human rights law, and perhaps as many as 800 allegations of ill-treatment.
Jonathan Duke-Evans, Head of Claims, Judicial Reviews and Public Inquiries at the Ministry of Defence will give evidence to the Committee.
Questions he will face include:
Why does the Secretary of State not wish these inquiries to be carried out under the 2005 Act?
How can an inquiry have powers of compulsion if it is not set up under the 2005 Act?
Is the Secretary of State content for the inquiries not to have their own Counsel?
Is it realistic to expect public hearings to last “between 1 and 3 days” given the problems of getting evidence from Iraq, documents which need translation and oral evidence which needs interpretation?
In a subsequent evidence session Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, an eminent lawyer with decades of inquiries experience, both as Counsel and as Chairman, will share with the Committee his views on practice and procedure of inquiries, and how the Inquiries Act meets what is required.
The evidence sessions will start at 10.40am on Wednesday 27 November in Committee Room 4 of the House of Lords.
The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.