Documentation will be critical for the work of the Inquiry. Requests for documents have already been made by the Inquiry to some organisations involved in the initial investigations. Those requests are lengthy, detailed and request a response within a short period of time. The Inquiry acknowledges its requests will be wide ranging. Last June the Inquiry sent out letters to advise of the need to retain documentation.
Now they have provided guidance in respect of redaction of documents and in summary have made it clear that the decision about redaction lies with them. There will be opportunities for discussion about information which should be redacted so that it does not appear in the public domain but no redaction should take place when documents are sent to the Inquiry. As the guidance notes “It is for the Inquiry to determine the relevance of any particular document and for the Inquiry to determine whether a redaction should be applied.”
The issue of legal professional privilege is also addressed in this latest guidance. The Inquiry cannot override the fact that it will be the case that some documents will attract legal professional privilege. If this is to be asserted the provider of that information (referred to as a POI) must write to the Inquiry identifying the document, stating which legal rule they believe prevents disclosure and detailing why it is believed that rule applies to that document. The guidance also states that “Before asserting legal professional privilege POI’s should consider carefully whether they should waive that privilege to assist the Inquiry in its work in the public interest.”
Meanwhile any person or organisation wishing to request core participant status in connection with the Investigation in to Lord Greville Janner must do so by 22 February. The preliminary hearing to determine the practicalities of this investigation will be held on 9 March. As that looks likely to be the first preliminary hearing it will be of wider interest as an indicator of how the further public hearings will proceed.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner