6 Aug 2019

The Inquiry aims to be open and transparent as possible. The Chairman will hear evidence from core participants and other witnesses. Counsel to the Inquiry or the Chairman may ask questions based on their statements.

In the normal course of events, a witness called to give evidence at open hearings will be expected to provide their evidence in public, in full view of those attending.

However, witnesses can request special measures to protect restricted identities or information, of because of their health or location. Special measures could include counselling, a hearing loop or giving evidence via a video-link.

During the hearings, the Inquiry will publish daily transcripts of the hearings and any documents referred to that day, subject to any restriction orders.

The Chairman wants to create the optimal conditions for getting to the truth by hearing evidence in full from all sides. In his statement of 19 December 2018, he set out his views on why live-streaming of the evidence for certain witnesses would be incompatible with protecting their rights and interests and may infringe restriction order made. Video footage of the opening and closing submissions will be published on the Inquiry website following each of those hearing days.

An audio recording of open proceedings will be made. It will provide a permanent record of the proceedings and the basis for the production of a transcript. It is the intention of the Inquiry to upload such parts of the audio recording onto its website as can safely be broadcast. This will require it to be checked beforehand to ensure that it contains nothing which would infringe or undermine a restriction order. The Inquiry will seek advice on the practicability of broadcasting oral evidence given by a witness without the use of voice modulation techniques in such a manner as to protect the identity of the witness where a relevant restriction order is in place.

The Inquiry will ensure that there is sufficient public and media access in place for the hearings.

Further information on the hearings venue and how hearings will work can be found in the hearings protocol.

Virtual hearings

Due to the social distancing measures that are expected to be in place at the time, the Inquiry’s hearings in November will be virtual and conducted remotely.

Opening statements given live will be live-streamed on the Inquiry website with a five-minute delay. Recorded and written opening statements will also be published on the Inquiry website.

The Chairman has proposed that the open oral evidence of witnesses is viewed and heard in real-time by the Chairman, Counsel to the Inquiry and the recognised legal representative of the witness. Core participants with a direct interest in the evidence given would also be able to hear it in real-time. Views are sought on an additional arrangement whereby a small audience could view a time-delayed stream of proceedings at an Inquiry venue.

An audio recording will be made of the oral evidence and, once checked to ensure that it contains nothing which should not be broadcast, will be uploaded onto the Inquiry website alongside a transcript.

Further information can be found in the Chairman’s statement.