13 March 2019

Guidance on how witnesses will be questioned

A new Statement of Approach is published which details how people giving evidence will be questioned during witness hearings.

The public hearings for the Inquiry begin at the end of April and we have now published the guidance that outlines how witnesses will be questioned during the hearings.

The Inquiry is not a trial and the hearings do not take place in a courtroom setting. Witnesses will not be repeating information in their witness statements and we expect that the vast majority of the questioning will be undertaken by Counsel to the Inquiry. The recognised legal representatives of core participants will support Counsel by suggesting issues or points to raise with a witness.

In very particular circumstances, however, there may be occasions where the Chair permits other legal representatives to ask questions they do not feel have been sufficiently covered, either via the Counsel to the Inquiry or, in rare instances, directly.

The Chair is only likely to permit such questioning if he considers that a point has not been raised and is worth raising, or has not been sufficiently addressed by questions. If the Chair permits questioning by the recognised legal representative of a core participant there will be a time limit and questioning will be limited to the point for which permission has been granted.

Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Inquiry, said:

“It is important to bear in mind that the witnesses to be called at the hearings scheduled to take place this spring are people who have been infected or affected. The primary focus of this evidence is on their individual, personal experiences, the circumstances in which they were infected and the impact on them of their experiences. Any decisions on questioning that I take will be with this primary focus in mind.

"I want witnesses to give the best evidence they can. Therefore, if their own legal representatives consider that some clarification or further explanation is needed after the witness concerned has given their main testimony then I am open to allowing those lawyers to ask a few necessary questions"

Further Statements of Approach outlining how the Inquiry works are available here.