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Date of Publication 29/10/2020

Update from Inquiry Chair on the ongoing pandemic:

During the challenges that the last six months have brought to us all, I have been determined that the Brook House Inquiry adapts as best it can to new ways of working and progresses with as much pace as is possible to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Inquiry’s timetable. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that the COVID-19 crisis has unavoidably had some impact.

The pandemic has led to a significant period of time where the Inquiry team lost access to our dedicated office and hearing space. Crucially, it has also led to challenges in gathering vital evidence. I am aware that a number of document providers have faced unavoidable delays in collating and submitting evidence that has been requested of them and I am sympathetic to the challenges that they have faced.

It remains the case that I do not want to risk the health and wellbeing of those who would want to attend the hearing, including Core Participants, witnesses and their legal representatives and all other interested parties. In view of the Government’s guidelines regarding social distancing and the avoidance of public gatherings, I decided to hold the Inquiry’s Opening Hearing in April and the first Preliminary Hearing in September as virtual events.  In addition, the Inquiry’s next Preliminary Hearing on the 14 December will also need to be held as a virtual session.

I am sorry that it has been necessary to take these steps and that I have been unable to meet interested parties face to face. However, as Counsel to the Inquiry indicated at the September Preliminary Hearing, it remains my intention to hold oral hearings in person, so far as possible, in the summer of 2021.

The Inquiry will take the following steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19:

All future hearings whether held virtually or in person will be streamed live on the Inquiry’s YouTube channel. Transcripts of the days’ hearings, determinations and further information will be published on the Inquiry’s website. Updates regarding the inquiry and key dates will be posted on the Inquiry’s Twitter page @BrookInquiry and the Inquiry’s website.

The Inquiry team can be contacted in the following ways:

Please note that due to the impact of COVID-19, there will be a delay in the Inquiry team receiving post. In addition, all calls using the freephone number will be directed to voicemail, which may take us longer than usual to respond.  I will provide a further update when these restrictions are lifted.