Justice calls for greater independence for judicial inquiries

Human rights and law reform organisation Justice is urging the government to increase the independence of judicial inquiries ahead of tomorrow’s second reading in the House of Lords of the Inquiries Bill (Thursday 9 December).

Justice says that the Bill needs to make a distinction between inquiries carried out by judges and those chaired by lay people. Although the organisation accepts that ministers should have the responsibility to establish inquiries, it wants another, independent body to be responsible for appointing judges as inquiry chairs.

Roger Smith, the director of Justice, said that as the Bill currently stands it is not in line with principles established in the Constitutional Reform Bill over the independence of the judiciary.

Inquiries’ reporting requirements are also a concern for Justice, which wants inquiry chairs to be responsible for deciding when a report is published. This is currently under the control of the minister who has set up the inquiry.