Letter: Precedents for the procedures of the Scott inquiry

Share
Sir: Lord Howe has made a number of assertions about the procedure before the Scott inquiry and the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry that must not go unchallenged (report, 13 January).

He draws a parallel between Lord Justice Scott's inquiry and that of Lord Denning into the Profumo affair. These two inquiries are very different. Lord Denning's was held in secret, and none of the witnesses could know of the things said by any other witness. The Scott inquiry is open to the public, and reports of it are carried by the media. Witnesses should know, or be able to find out, if allegations have been made against them. To take this further, and allow witnesses to be legally represented and to have other witnesses cross-examined, would change the nature of the inquiry.

Lord Howe, in his criticism of the procedure of the Scott inquiry, relies heavily on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry. That Commission was concerned only with inquiries held under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 1921. By the Government's choice, the Scott inquiry is not such an inquiry. The cardinal principles that Lord Howe relies on were never enacted, but later inquiries have adopted them. It is a matter for those carrying out the inquiry to decide whether to follow these 'Salmon principles'. Lord Justice Scott has chosen not to do so, as is his privilege.

The 'Salmon principles' are not uncontroversial. In 1982, the Crown Agents Tribunal (the last inquiry held under the 1921 Act) was concerned that 'although the nature of the Inquiry was that of an inquisition intended to dig deep and establish facts, and not that of a trial, the Royal Commission's recommendations introduced elements of adversary litigation'. More recently, the Ashworth Hospital inquiry has suggested that the practice of notifying witnesses of allegations made against them and of the supporting evidence (the so-called 'Salmon letters') had led to legal representatives interpreting such letters 'with a technicality and precision appropriate enough for proceedings in a court of law dealing with a criminal indictment or a set of pleadings in a Chancery action'.

Lord Howe seems not to recognise that the form chosen for the Scott inquiry by the Government makes strict adherence to the 'Salmon principles' inappropriate. It is too late now to complain.

Yours faithfully,

MARK GOULD

Department of Law

University of Bristol

Bristol

13 January

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Only a game? Far from it

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking at the Grand Mosque in Mosul  

The al-Baghdadi doctrine: leading British Muslims offer their response

Independent Voices
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil