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Frequently Asked Questions

About the Inquiry

When was the Inquiry set up?

The Brook House Inquiry was set up on 5 November 2019, when the Home Secretary announced she was converting the special investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman into the mistreatment of individuals who were detained at Brook House IRC shown on Panorama Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets, broadcast on 4th September 2017, into a statutory public inquiry.

What will the Inquiry achieve?

The Home Secretary set the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry. These set out what the Inquiry is to achieve.

Further information about how the Chair intends to fulfil the Terms of Reference will be set out in her opening statement.

How long will it take for the Inquiry to report?

The Terms of Reference  asked the Inquiry to report in 12 months. Given the Covid-19 crisis, there is likely to be a delay in obtaining evidence and scheduling public hearings. This will have an impact on when the Inquiry will report but we are committed to progressing the Inquiry with all due speed whilst maintaining the need for diligence and thorough examination of the evidence.

What impact will the Covid-19 outbreak have on the Inquiry?

The Inquiry is following Government advice about the Covid-19 outbreak. Updates about Covid-19 and other Inquiry news will appear on our website.  

The Inquiry team can still be contacted in the following ways: 

Please note that due to the impact of COVID-19, there will be a delay in the Inquiry team receiving post. In addition, all calls using the freephone number will be directed to voicemail, which may take us longer than usual to respond. 

How will news about the Inquiry be provided?

Latest news from the Inquiry will appear in our news feed. We will also provide updates via twitter.

Core Participants

What does it mean to have core participant status?

Under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 core participants can include individuals, organisations or entities with a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the Inquiry relates. Those designated as core participants may participate in the Inquiry in a number of ways:

  • Receiving in advance of hearings disclosure of evidence which the Chair considers relevant to that core participant;
  • Making an opening and closing statement at certain hearings;
  • Suggesting lines of questioning to be pursued by Counsel to the Inquiry;

How do I apply for core participant status?

Information about how to apply to be designated a core participant is set out in the Inquiry’s Core Participant Protocol.

If you wish to apply for Core Participant status please complete the Core Participant questionnaire and return it by email to solicitors@brookhouse.staging.wp.dsd.io

The Inquiry will write to applicants or their legal representative confirming if they have been designated as a core participant. The Inquiry will liaise with core participants through recognised legal representatives, or direct where core participants are representing themselves, with details of how they can participate.

What happens when an individual or organisation is not designated as a core participant – are they still able to participate in the Inquiry?

You do not have to be designated core participant status to contribute to, or participate in the Inquiry as a witness or attending hearings in person as a member of the public.

Do core participants need to be legally represented?

Anyone designated as a core participant is entitled to appoint a legal representative if they wish. However, the designation of core participant status does not automatically confer funding. CPs who wish to apply for funding for a recognised legal representative should read the guidance in the Costs Protocol.

Witnesses

Who are witnesses?

A witness is someone who has evidence relating to the matters being investigated by the Inquiry, as set out in the Terms of Reference. This could be as a witness to an event or through the records they hold, such as videos, photographs or documentation. Witnesses may be called to give evidence in the form of a written or oral statement and may also be asked to appear at an Inquiry hearing.

An individual or organisation can be both a core participant and a witness – the two roles are not mutually exclusive.

How do I become a witness?

The Inquiry encourages anyone who holds relevant information or documents to provide them to the Inquiry. If you have information of that might be of interest to the Inquiry, please contact us.

How can I submit evidence?

The Inquiry encourages anyone who holds relevant information or documents to provide them to the Inquiry. Please contact us for more information about how to do this.

What powers does the Inquiry have to compel witnesses?

The Chair has the power to issue a notice requiring a person to attend and give evidence but would prefer if witnesses did so voluntarily. Failure to comply with any such notice is a criminal offence under section 35 of the Inquiries Act 2005, and in the event of non-compliance the Chair will take such steps and/or measures that are considered to be necessary to secure compliance.

Section 21 (4) of the Inquiries Act 2005 provides that a person may object to the Chairman’s notice on the grounds that the requirement to give evidence is not reasonable in all the circumstances.

Is there funding for witnesses?

Section 40 of the Inquires Act 2005 gives the Chair power to award expenses and legal costs to those who give evidence, whether or not they are core participants. This is subject to the conditions set out in the Home Secretary’s Ministerial Determination and the Inquiry’s Costs Protocol.

I am no longer in the UK. Can I still participate?

You do not need to be in the UK to take part in the Inquiry. You can submit a written witness statement online via our website. If the Inquiry Chair wants you to give evidence at the hearing, the Inquiry team will contact you to discuss the most appropriate way to do this.

What help is there for speakers of other languages?

Information about the Inquiry is available in 17 different languages on our website. We are unable to translate all our documents into different languages due to the costs involved. However, we can translate witness statements and arrange translators for hearings. Please contact us if you need more help.

Funding

How do I apply for funding?

The Cost Protocol provides more information on eligibility for legal representation at public expense and how to apply.

Hearings

Where will hearings take place?

Our hearings are being held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) near St Paul’s Cathedral in central London. You will find the address, map, travel directions and other information about the venue on our Venue page.

Will the hearings be broadcast live?

Our hearings will be livestreamed on the Inquiry’s YouTube channel. You will also be able to watch recordings of previous sessions.

Am I able to attend the hearings in person?

At the current time we intend to conduct our hearings in person and so members of the public can attend if they have booked a seat in advance.  However, because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, these arrangements may change.  All our hearings are streamed live on our YouTube channel. 

Space at our venue is limited due to the need to maintain social distancing. We advise you to book a seat specifying the date or session you wish to attend. This can be done up to 24 hours in advance of the date you wish to attend. If you turn up without a seat booking, you might be refused entry if we are full.

Everyone attending the IDRC will be required to complete the IDRC’s Covid-19 declaration form.  To avoid congestion and delay on arrival, please bring a completed form with you, as you are required to complete one before entry.

If you are attending the Brook House Inquiry regularly, we ask you to carry out a lateral flow test on the Sunday night or Monday morning of each week before coming to the IDRC and a further test on the Wednesday of each week. Information on how to obtain free lateral flow tests is available on the NHS Covid-19 information pages.

Does your venue provide refreshments?

Witnesses will be provided with refreshments – and the information will be in their witness packs.  There is no café or coffee shop at the IDRC for members of the public, but there are plenty of food outlets and cafés nearby.

Please note, alcohol is not permitted in our venue and only water is permitted in the hearing room itself.

What are your security arrangements?

All visitors will be required to undergo a non-contact search and bag check prior to entry to our hearings.

There is no cloakroom or secure storage for visitors.

Freedom of Information

Is the Inquiry subject to the Freedom of Information Act?

The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act. However, it will endeavour to conduct proceedings in an open and transparent manner.  As part of this, as much information as possible will be provided on this website.

 

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