About the Inquiry
The National Assembly for Wales set up the Inquiry following a report by a cross-party committee of Assembly Members. The inquiry was established under The Inquiries Act 2005.
Professor Hugh Pennington was appointed to chair the Inquiry and an Inquiry Team was formed to support him.
The Inquiries Act 2005
The Inquiries Act 2005 enables a public inquiry to be held where events have caused or are capable of causing public concern, or if there is public concern that particular events may have occurred. The Act sets out the constitution of an inquiry and issues relating to its proceedings.
The Inquiries Act 2005 replaced over thirty different pieces of legislation regarding inquiries. This Inquiry was the first in the UK to be established wholly under the Act.
Purpose of an Inquiry
The purpose of a public inquiry is to investigate thoroughly the matters in question to establish the facts and to find out what happened. Where necessary, recommendations will be made to prevent something from happening again.
A public inquiry cannot determine civil or criminal liability, or award compensation. It is a means of seeking out the facts in a way that would not be possible in adversarial proceedings, such as a lawsuit in which one party wins and another loses. A public inquiry does not decide in favour of one side or the other, nor is it a trial or a disciplinary hearing.
There will be some people who have evidence to give to the Inquiry and others who may have a legitimate interest in challenging such evidence. However, from the Inquiry's point of view there are no parties or sides.
The Inquiry relies on the co-operation of individuals and organisations to assist it. However, it did have the power to call witnesses and to compel witnesses to give evidence, either in writing or orally, and to produce any relevant documents.
Participants in the Inquiry
An individual or organisation may be designated as a core participant in the Inquiry. As the title suggests, they are considered by the Chairman to be those closest to the issues being considered by the Inquiry
The Welsh Assembly Government provided funding to support the Inquiry but the Inquiry was independent of both the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government. Professor Hugh Pennington alone was responsible for the conduct of the Inquiry.