To help those interested in the Inquiry understand the work going on between now and April next year when the hearings begin, this is the first of an occasional series of articles that look at the work of some of our staff.
The largest group of Inquiry staff are paralegals. Some are law graduates who will subsequently go on to qualify as barristers or solicitors. Others are already qualified and have only recently entered practice or are yet to do so. Currently the Inquiry employs around 30 paralegals and this number will grow in the coming weeks.
The Inquiry has large volumes of documents that it needs to review or reference. These come from many sources including, but not limited to: the NHS and Department of Health; other departments from the UK’s four national governments; 70 different hospital trusts; the various trusts and funds, charities, police forces and individuals. All of these need to be catalogued so they can be reviewed and cross-referenced to our Terms of Reference at any time during the Inquiry.
The paralegals use a document review program called ‘Relativity’ to do this. It allows them to analyse and quickly sift through volumes of unstructured data to uncover facts and help show what happened.
So far, over 80,000 pages from over 9,000 documents have been uploaded and reviewed on Relativity and half a million more pages will be added to the system for review within the next month. The final total may reach as high as four million pages. These documents are then shared with the core participants so that they can engage with the material relevant to the Inquiry and themselves.
Another of the vital tasks is taking witness statements from people who wish to contribute to the Inquiry. Working alongside our investigators, paralegals and solicitors are visiting people in their homes, listening to their personal experiences and taking their witness accounts.
Additionally, the team are visiting repositories of information around the UK to obtain relevant material for the Inquiry and assisting in research projects such as that looking at previous civil and criminal proceedings that have taken place.
Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Inquiry said:
“Our paralegals are critical to the Inquiry's investigations. Their determination and energy is a credit to them and their enthusiasm and teamwork bodes well for the Inquiry.”
The Inquiry will look to provide further insights into the work of its different teams between now and April 2019 when its hearings begin.