How public is a public inquiry?

Ireton, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-4106-1697, 2018. How public is a public inquiry? Public Law (April), pp. 277-298. ISSN 0033-3565

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Public inquiries convened by ministers into matters of public concern are major instruments of accountability within the administrative justice system. This article examines the tensions between the demand for public scrutiny of public inquiries and open justice on the one hand and conflicting pressures such as the protection of individual privacy and national security on the other. With reference to the Bristol Royal Infirmary, the Iraq Inquiry, the Undercover Policing and Azelle Rodney Inquiries and others, and drawing comparisons with the civil and criminal court systems, it looks at examples of inquiries with very different degrees of openness. The article analyses the key elements that comprise open justice in the public inquiry process and the methods by which restrictions are imposed on those elements. Openness is not always possible, however, the article argues that each time a concession is made against openness, there is a real risk that public confidence in the public inquiry process, and thereby the effectiveness of that process, is diminished. Finally, the article argues that the power of the minister to impose restrictions on public access, and perceptions of undue secrecy and ministerial interference, significantly exacerbates the undermining of public scrutiny and public trust in the independence and integrity of public inquiries.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Public Law
Creators: Ireton, E.
Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell
Date: April 2018
Number: April
ISSN: 0033-3565
Rights: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Public Law following peer review. The definitive published version of Ireton, E. , 2018. How public is a public inquiry? Public Law (April), pp. 277-298 is available online on Westlaw UK.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Law School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 05 Dec 2017 16:24
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2023 08:06

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