Letter: Precedents for the procedures of the Scott inquiry

Share
Related Topics
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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching jobs in Thetford

£1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Year 1 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary General Cover Teachers needed

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Gordon Brown’s finest hour, a letter from Quebec and the problem of anti-politics

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week