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Our Inquiry experience

Our Inquiries and Investigations team can mobilise dedicated resource on a scale to suit your needs (small or large) and at speed.

Our investigations experience includes conducting and supporting independent internal investigations into issues of a sensitive nature for public authorities, corporate entities and health bodies. Our lawyers have worked on investigations on topics ranging from financial overspend, abuse of power, to policing and child abuse.

The team also has a wealth of experience in managing and assisting in public inquiries, both statutory and non-statutory, established by central and local government.

Our Inquiries and Investigations team has acted for a number of high profile public inquiries. Our past roles have included undertaking all aspects of an inquiry’s work from the outset, in establishing an inquiry, to the end, including archiving and concluding the inquiry’s terms of reference and making the eventual report public. The team also acts for Core Participants to inquiries. Our experience from ‘both sides’ of an inquiry has proved to be hugely beneficial to our work.

We are easily able to work in a COVID-secure manner, with remote working in place and excellent technological solutions, such as our in-house platform, CaseReady, a cloud-based, highly secure system.

We have been appointed to act on a number of high profile inquiries and investigations, either as Solicitors to the Inquiry or acting on behalf of Core Participants. Our experience includes:

Independent Inquiry into Telford Child Sexual Exploitation

Following reports in the press about alleged widespread sexual exploitation of children in Telford, Telford & Wrekin Council (the Council) commissioned an independent inquiry in April 2018. Although the Inquiry is being funded by the Council, it is completely independent of it. We were appointed as the Commissioning Body in January 2019, part of our role being to appoint an independent Chair, Tom Crowther QC, who commenced his role in June 2019. The Inquiry is ongoing and is taking evidence from a broad range of witnesses, including victim/survivors and professional witnesses from relevant organisations.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry

An inquiry was established into the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017, to establish the facts of what happened that night, in order to prevent similar incidents happening in the future. The report for Phase 1 was published in October 2019, with Phase 2 currently ongoing and expected to continue into 2022. We act for two core participants in this inquiry providing strategic advice and supporting their role in the inquiry.

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

This inquiry, led by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, was set up in July 2014 because of serious concerns that some organisations had failed, and were continuing to fail, to protect children from sexual abuse. The Inquiry was originally intended to be a panel inquiry, but was reconstituted in February 2015 as a statutory inquiry, with Professor Jay taking over the chairmanship in August of that year. We have represented two Core Participants and an individual in the following investigations: the Anglican Church, Residential Schools, Accountability and Reparations and Westminster.

Infected Blood Inquiry

This Inquiry was established as a result at least 3,891 people, receiving contaminating clotting factor products supplied by the National Health Service (NHS) in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of the individuals suffered from haemophilia and were infected with Hepatitis C, of whom 1,243 were also infected with HIV, the virus that lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). A long-awaited public inquiry was announced in 2018 and is expected to publish its final report in 2022.

North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry

Our first experience of public inquiries related to the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry set up under the Chairmanship of former High Court Judge, Sir Ronnie Waterhouse. This three-year Inquiry investigated child abuse in children’s homes throughout North Wales, and elsewhere, between 1974 and 1990, following the revelation of widespread abuse by a series of programmes broadcast by HTV Limited – the ITV company in Wales.

Our involvement was to advise HTV in relation to the transmission of these programmes, and the likely consequences of so doing. It is probably true to say that it was the transmission of these programmes and the subsequent court cases claiming defamation that was the catalyst for the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry. We represented HTV Limited and BBC at that Inquiry. By that stage, we had also built relationships with various of the children abused who had appeared in the TV programmes and who had given evidence at the defamation trial brought against HTV, Private Eye and other national newspapers at the behest of a police inspector who had been accused of severely abusing children.

The report into the scandal, published in 2000, resulted in changes in policy in England and Wales into how authorities deal with children in care. It was our involvement in this case that led the firm to establish an Inquiries and Investigations Team dedicated for undertaking this type of work, and which led to the involvement of the firm in other high profile public inquiries.

Shipman Inquiry

We acted as Solicitor Agents on behalf of the Shipman Inquiry, established in 2000, with a specific brief of interviewing the relevant witnesses in Hyde and the locality, who had been patients of Dr Shipman’s practice, to establish patterns of behaviour by him over a period of time. There had already been criminal prosecutions resulting in 15 convictions. As result of our analysis and evidence gathering, Dame Janet Smith was able to establish that Shipman had, on the balance of probabilities, murdered more than 215 patients.

This Inquiry was of huge significance to the regulatory sector in that the General Medical Council (GMC) was heavily criticised for the manner in which it conducted its operations. Following our role on the Shipman Inquiry, we were appointed to the GMC legal panel and acted for the GMC for 7 years prosecuting cases, specialising in particular in cases with vulnerable witnesses and achieving a 100% attendance record of securing witness attendance at hearings.

Bloody Sunday Inquiry

We acted as Solicitors to the largest inquiry ever to be conducted in the UK, which was key to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Lord Saville’s Bloody Sunday Inquiry was established in 1997 to deal with shootings that had occurred in Londonderry in 1972. This was an Inquiry of the highest possible political profile coming, as it did, at a time when the peace process had not culminated in the Good Friday Agreement, and when relations between the various communities in Northern Ireland remained volatile and fraught.

Our team involved 50 lawyers and an additional 50 staff undertaking all the necessary steps over a seven year period, culminating in Lord Saville’s landmark report. We managed the documentation which ran to millions of pages, interviewed all the witnesses from those who had been shot and survived, to those who had done the shooting, to army officers, to Government Ministers, including the command staff of the IRA. We also interviewed the Prime Minister of the day in relation to policy within the province.

Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

Rosemary Nelson was a human rights solicitor operating in Northern Ireland, whose clients had included members of the Provisional IRA. Her life had allegedly been threatened by members of the security services and the police. She was murdered in 1999 and a public inquiry was established in 2004 to ascertain whether any state body had colluded, or had somehow participated, in her murder.

With a team of over 30, we acted as Solicitors to the Inquiry investigating this possible collusion. We needed to be security vetted to do this work and we interviewed Government Ministers as well as sensitive witnesses, such as MI5 Special Branch and paramilitaries. Again, the team had to analyse the adequacy of the police investigation into the murder of the victim and deal with all documentation that had been generated, much of which was highly sensitive and of security significance. We interviewed senior police personnel, including the Chief Constable and Her Majesty’s Head of Constabulary.

Leveson Inquiry

The Leveson Inquiry was a judicial public inquiry, which commenced in 2011, into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press, following the News International phone hacking scandal. In this Inquiry, we acted for an interested party, the Metropolitan Police Authority (“MPA”) (which became the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC)). The Leveson Inquiry was very high profile, and was politically sensitive. The Prime Minister and other ministers were implicated by some of the evidence, and all involvement with the Inquiry was likely to attract press comment. This was equally true of the MPA who stood to be criticised for the way that it had regulated the Metropolitan Police in its phone hacking investigations, and in relation to abuses of corporate hospitality and other governance regulations. There was scope for huge reputational damage should the Inquiry have criticised the MPA, and this was at a crucial time as the role was moving into the Mayor's office.

We gave the necessary strategic advice to the client, and prepared all the evidence necessary to support it. We guided our witnesses through the process, including attendance at the hearing, and advising on all dealings with the media. The report did not in any way criticise the MPA/MOPAC or any of those who gave evidence on their behalf.

Edinburgh Tram Inquiry

We acted for two clients on this Inquiry, announced in 2014, which investigated the reasoning behind there being a four-fold increase in the cost of a public project to build a tram line through Edinburgh, and where the line built was only half the size of that originally intended. We needed to give strategic advice to the client as to how best to deal with the Inquiry, and manage possible consequences.

E.coli Inquiry

We acted on behalf of affected schools appearing before a 2006 Inquiry into an e.coli outbreak in South Wales that led to the death of a five year old and to 150 other people being taken ill. We advised those involved on how to manage their involvement with the Inquiry, and prepared all the necessary evidence on their behalf.

Baha Mousa Inquiry

Baha Mousa was an Iraqi man who died while in British Army custody in Basra, Iraq in September 2003. We acted for the British Army at the outset of this Inquiry to give strategic advice as to how the MOD, and those who it represented, should engage with this Inquiry. We thereafter prepared evidence for some of the most important witnesses who were to give evidence to the Inquiry, including its lawyers and interrogators who stood to be criticised by the Inquiry.

Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry

The Cleveland child abuse scandal was a 1987 wave of suspected child sexual abuse cases, many of which were later discredited. We acted for the clinicians in the Cleveland Inquiry.

Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry

We acted for an organisation that had been asked to provide documentary evidence to the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry (RHI Inquiry) in Northern Ireland; advising the client as to their disclosure obligations, assisting them with carrying out searches and collating the material and advising them in relation to privilege and presentation of the evidence to the Inquiry.

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry

This was a statutory public inquiry set up by the Department of Health in June 2010 to investigate the commissioning, supervisory and regulatory bodies of the NHS, and their culture, and why this led to so many unnecessary deaths at the hospital.

As Solicitors to the Inquiry, with a team of around 25 lawyers, our role included interviewing all concerned, from the most senior Department of Health officials to the families of victims and patient-focussed organisations and charities. Over 352 witness statements were taken, with over 1 million pages of evidence reviewed and the public hearings were completed in around 12 months – one quarter of the time usually taken for an inquiry of this nature. We were awarded 2nd place in the Financial Times Innovation Awards and The Lawyer Litigation Team of the Year for our work.

The Trojan Horse Investigation

In November 2013 Birmingham City Council (BCC) received an anonymous ‘Trojan Horse’ letter containing suggestions that schools within Birmingham had been targeted to be “taken over” to ensure that they would be run on strict Islamic principles. The letter was made public, with BCC’s Social Services Department coming under considerable scrutiny and Ofsted launching 21 separate investigations into schools in Birmingham.

As BCC was directly affected by the allegations, it wished to have its own investigation which was entirely independent of central Government, and of BCC itself. The investigation was conducted in parallel with a national investigation that had been set up by the Department of Education. As well as managing and co-ordinating the Investigation, the team assisted with the drafting and analysis of the final report, which subsequently received significant media attention and stood up to scrutiny at the House of Commons Select Committee.

The Investigation was completed in an extremely short timeframe and under considerable pressure. As a result of our work on this Investigation, the team was nominated for the Legal Business Awards 2015 “Litigation Team of the Year” award.