See answers to questions posed about the operation of the Inquiry.
Click on the questions below to see the details
- Q: What should I do if I think I have information that may be useful to the Inquiry?
A: The Inquiry would very much like to hear from you. Please get in touch with the
Solicitors to the Inquiry,
who will be able to answer any questions you have.
- Q: Will the Inquiry's hearings be held in public?
A: As a general rule, the Inquiry’s hearings will be held in public. However, in some circumstances, the Inquiry Panel may require evidence to be given privately, and the public and media will not be able to attend in such circumstances.
- Q: Will records of the Inquiry proceedings be made publicly available?
A: The Inquiry’s public hearings will be recorded and a transcript prepared each day. These transcripts will then be posted on the website as soon as possible thereafter, and can be viewed and downloaded from the website. Vulnerable witnesses have a right of anonymity and personal identifying details will be removed from the transcripts unless the witness decides otherwise.
- Q: What arrangements have been made regarding the welfare of witnesses giving evidence?
A: The Inquiry will be hearing about the abuse of children and the harm they experienced in the care system. It recognises that giving evidence on such matters will not be easy for victims. The Inquiry arranged for an independent, confidential support service to be available to witnesses throughout the Inquiry. The support service was free and was available on and off the island. Support is still available in Jersey for witnesses. Details can be found here.
- Q: I want to give evidence to the Inquiry. Do I need to be represented by a lawyer?
A: You do not need a lawyer in order to provide your evidence to the Inquiry. The Inquiry legal Team will assist anyone asked to give evidence or produce documents to the Inquiry. You will be taken through your evidence by Counsel to the Inquiry and will not be cross-examined by anyone else or asked questions by your solicitor when giving your evidence. In a small number of circumstances, some people in may wish to appoint a lawyer. The Inquiry’s protocols set out in what circumstances legal representatives can apply to be accepted as an accredited lawyer before the Inquiry, and the necessary procedures to be followed.
- Q: I want to appoint a lawyer to represent me at the Inquiry. What do I do?
A: The Inquiry’s protocols set out in what circumstances legal representatives can apply to be accepted as an Accredited Lawyer before the Inquiry, and the necessary procedures to be followed.
- Q: How do I get accreditation as a member of the media?
A: Contact the Media Team at
firstname.lastname@example.org to apply for accreditation. Full details of how to apply for accreditation are set out in the
- Q: What facilities are available in the hearing room?
A: There will be a limited number of seats available for the media in the public seating area of the hearing room. If these media seats are not taken up to 15 minutes before the hearings begin each day, they will be released to the public.
A separate Media Office has been set up next to the hearing room. This has work spaces, power points and an ISDN line.
- Q: When will transcripts be available?
A: When the hearings get underway, transcripts will be available on the website and other social media platforms managed by the Inquiry, as soon as practically possible.
- Q: Can we Tweet in the hearing room?
A: Mobile phones, laptops, other personal devices etc., are not allowed in the hearing room and therefore Tweeting and posting on other social media from the hearing room is not possible.
- Q: Is there parking at the Inquiry?
A: There is no reserved parking. However four public car parks are located within a 5 minute walk of the venue; on the St Helier Waterfront, the Esplanade, Patriotic St and, closest of all, Sand St.
- Q: What is the Inquiry about?
A: On 6th March 2013 the States Assembly agreed the terms of reference for a Committee of Inquiry to undertake a wide-ranging investigation into historical child abuse in Jersey. The Inquiry’s
Terms of Reference are available on the website.
- Q: What is the timetable for the Inquiry?
A: The Inquiry’s first preliminary hearing took place on 3rd April 2014 at 10.30 am at St Paul's Centre, Dumaresq St, St Helier JE2 3RL.Further information concerning the
dates and times of the Inquiry’s oral hearings will be published on the website in due course.
- Q: Where will the Inquiry be held?
A: The oral hearings for the Inquiry will be held at 11 – 15 Seaton Place, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands.
Four public car parks are located within a 5 minute walk of the venue; on the St Helier Waterfront, the Esplanade, Patriotic St and, closest of all, Sand St.
- Q: What are Inquiry Protocols
A: These are the rules which we have made so that everyone will know how we are going to work. These rules set out how the Inquiry will conduct its business.
- Q: Can the Inquiry make people provide evidence?
A: The Inquiry expects that documents and evidence will be provided voluntarily. However, we understand the concerns that people may have about coming forward and giving evidence.
The Inquiry can order an individual or an organisation to give evidence (including documents, witness statements and oral evidence). We would however only expect to use this power as a last resort.
- Q: Paragraph 24 of the Inquiry Protocol: Protective Measures talks about privileges and immunities of persons appearing before the Inquiry, or giving documents to the Inquiry. What does this mean?
A: The wording at paragraph 24 of the protocol comes from Article 8 of the States of Jersey (Powers, Privileges and Immunities) (Committees of Inquiry) (Jersey) Regulation 2007. This legislation means that any individuals giving evidence to the Inquiry (whether in the form of documents, witness statements or oral evidence) will have immunity from self-incrimination. What that means in practice is that anything said by that person in their evidence to the Inquiry cannot then later be used against them in civil or criminal proceedings in Jersey (although the evidence could be used in libel proceedings if evidence is given by a person who knows what they are saying is untrue). It does not mean that they cannot be accused by others and it does not mean that a case cannot still be brought against them - just that the evidence that person gave to the Inquiry cannot be used against them in future proceedings. It also does not prevent the matters being investigated by anyone in the future. It does not give people immunity from prosecution.
For example, if Witness A admitted to the Inquiry that they had stolen a book from the local bookshop, that admission could not be used against them in a future prosecution. However, if Witness B told the Inquiry that they had witnessed Witness A steal the book, Witness B's evidence could be used in any future criminal prosecution against Witness A.
The purpose of the legislation is to encourage those giving evidence to be open and honest without fear of incriminating themselves.
The Inquiry does not have any power to make any decision about civil or criminal liability.
- Q: How will I give my evidence to the Inquiry?
A: As a first step, you will speak to someone from the Inquiry’s legal team. They will talk to you about what evidence you have to give and whether you have provided a statement to any other organisation in the past (e.g. the Police or the Historical Redress Scheme).
If a copy of your previous statement is available, you will be asked whether you are happy for that statement to be used as your evidence to the Inquiry, or whether you wish to add to or change that statement.
If you have not provided a statement to anyone before, or if your statement did not cover your evidence in full, the Solicitors to the Inquiry will make arrangements to meet with you to talk about your evidence. Following that meeting, a witness statement will be prepared for you to check and sign. If you are happy with it, your statement will then become evidence to the Inquiry. You may also be asked to give oral evidence during the Inquiry’s oral hearings.
- Q: Will I have to give oral evidence?
A: The Inquiry will decide which witnesses will be asked to give oral evidence. There will be some people who provide a witness statement to the Inquiry, but will not be asked to attend in person to give oral evidence to the Inquiry because their statement covers everything we need.
- Q: Who will ask me questions during the oral hearings?
A: You will be taken through your evidence by one of the people called Counsel to the Inquiry – either Patrick Sadd or Harriet Jerram. They will ask you questions. The Inquiry Panel may also ask you questions.
Nobody else will be asking you questions directly during the hearing, although others can ask Counsel to the Inquiry to put certain questions to you.
This is standard practice for a public inquiry, which is inquisitorial in nature – i.e. it's job is to investigate the facts and find out the truth.
- Q: Will any of the oral hearings be held in private?
A: The Inquiry Panel can allow witnesses to give evidence anonymously or in private. They will consider any such applications as they arise. The procedures for applying are set out in the Inquiry Protocol: Protective Measures. Witnesses should get in touch with the Inquiry’s legal team who can help with making such an application (Telephone: 0800 735 0100 / 01534 828 798, E-mail:
email@example.com). We have also prepared a draft
application form that witnesses can complete and send to the Inquiry. If you have any questions about completing the application form, again you can contact the Inquiry’s legal team who will be able to help.
- Q: What are protective measures and how is the Inquiry applying them?
A: The Inquiry Panel understands the concerns that people may have about coming forward and giving evidence and has made arrangements to ensure the safety of witnesses to the Inquiry. These can include preventing the disclosure of a witness’s name, protecting their identity or allowing them to give evidence in private.
Witnesses can make an application to the Chair – Mrs Oldham QC - for appropriate arrangements to be put in place. Applications should explain what the effect would be on the witness if certain arrangements were not put in place. These can vary for each witness.
The Inquiry legal team can assist anyone who wishes to make an application.
The Inquiry Panel will consider each individual application and make a decision. You will be contacted by the Inquiry and told about the decision. The Inquiry will also publish a copy of its decision on the website, although where a witness has applied to give evidence anonymously or in private, the personal details or any identifying information about that person will not be published.
- Q: What does being an Interested Party mean?
A: Interested Parties will be able to propose to the Inquiry that certain questions be asked of a witness. These questions would need to be submitted to the Inquiry’s legal team no later than 48 hours in advance of that witness giving oral evidence. Counsel to the Inquiry will then consider those questions and put them to the witness if they feel it is appropriate to do so.
Interested Parties, providing they accept that they must keep anything given to them by the Inquiry confidential, will have advance access to documents. This is to allow Interested Parties the opportunity to consider papers in advance of witnesses giving evidence and to submit questions to Counsel to the Inquiry, if they so wish, in the way described above.
Interested Parties have other roles too, such as the ability to seek permission to make an opening and / or a closing statement to the Inquiry and they will be entitled to be present to read the Inquiry’s final report two hours before its publication.
- Q: Who can be an Interested Party?
A: Most people and organisations will assist the Inquiry by providing documentary or oral evidence. This means that most people will either provide documents to the Inquiry and /or give a witness statement, which may result in them being asked to provide oral evidence. You do not need to be an ‘Interested Party’ to do this.
However, should you wish to apply for Interested Party status, paragraphs 12 to 14 of the Inquiry Protocol:
General Procedures sets out the factors which the Inquiry will consider when looking at any applications. Briefly these are:
(i) whether you played a direct and significant role in relation to an issue or issues relevant to the Inquiry,
(ii) whether you have a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters relevant to the Inquiry and will assist the Inquiry in fulfilling its Terms of Reference,
(iii) whether you may be subject to significant criticism during the Inquiry or in any Inquiry report,
(iv) whether your contribution to the Inquiry requires you to be an Interested Party. And/or
(v) any other relevant circumstances.
You may wish to consider whether you will apply to be an Interested Party on an individual basis, or as part of an organisation or group, particularly where there are similar interests.
The Inquiry legal team can assist anyone who wishes to make an application for Interested Party status.
- Q: The Inquiry has clear procedures (protocols) in place. What if something unexpected happens?
A: For the Inquiry’s work to be efficient, it will need to be flexible. If needed, the procedures that the Inquiry has set down may change. Any changes made to the Inquiry’s procedures will be made public.
For example, if someone wishes to make an application asking the Inquiry to change any of its procedures, this will usually be heard in public so that all will be aware of the request and the decision made by the Inquiry.
- Q: Can I put in a Freedom of Information request for information relating to the Inquiry?
A: Until the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 comes into force, the Inquiry is not covered by Freedom of Information requests. However, the Inquiry will carry out its work in an open and transparent way as far as possible. As part of this, as much information as possible will be provided on this website.
Once the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 comes into force, the Inquiry intends to rely on Article 24(3). This means that the Inquiry can decide not to respond to a Freedom of Information request if a document has been created by the Inquiry or given to it. However, the Inquiry will continue to carry out its work in an open and transparent way.
- Q: What does redaction mean?
A: Redaction means information being blacked out in a document, so that the information is no longer readable.
The Inquiry has made a ruling so that, before any documents are published by the Inquiry or given to Interested Parties, certain information will be automatically blacked out. This is known as the Inquiry’s General Protective Ruling. The information that will be automatically blacked out is:
• The names and identifying details of:
• People who say they have been abused, or say they have witnessed alleged abuse;
• People accused of abuse, except those who have criminal convictions for that abuse;
• Other persons who’s identity the Inquiry considers should not be disclosed; and
• People who have successfully applied to the Inquiry not to have their identities revealed in public.
• Other personal information. This does not include people’s names (other than those listed above), but would include information such as telephone number, addresses, dates of birth etc, unless there are particular reasons why this information is relevant to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
- Q: What will happen to the information I give to the Inquiry?
A: All documents given to the Inquiry will be accessible to the Inquiry Panel and the Inquiry’s legal team. The Inquiry’s legal team means the Solicitors to the Inquiry (a law firm called Eversheds LLP) and Counsel to the Inquiry (barristers called Patrick Sadd and Harriet Jerram). All documents given to the Inquiry will be stored securely.
The Inquiry will review all documents and decide if they are relevant and important to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. Those documents that are relevant and important will then be redacted. This means that some information contained within the documents will be blacked out so that it cannot be read. This includes certain persons names. The FAQ above explains what information will be blacked out.
Once the documents have been blacked out in this way, they will first be made available to Interested Parties. They will also then be published on the Inquiry’s website.
Once the Inquiry’s work has finished, all of the material that has been published on the Inquiry’s website will be transferred to the States of Jersey Archive in its redacted form.
- Q: What information will be given to the public?
A: The following information will be published on this website during the Inquiry’s work:
• A transcript (i.e. a word for word note of what was said) of each day’s oral hearings, where the hearing is in public;
• Witness statements submitted to the Inquiry, including any documents that are attached to those witness statements (except where a person has successfully applied to the Inquiry to give the witness statement privately); and
• Any documents shown during the public hearings.
As explained in the FAQ above, information will be blacked out from these documents in line with the Inquiry’s General Protective Ruling before being made public.
All other information that is important to the Inquiry’s work, for example decisions made by the Inquiry, press notices and other information, will also be made public by publishing it on this website.
- Q: What does being given anonymity mean?
A: If a person applies to the Inquiry to give evidence anonymously and is successful, they will be given anonymity. This means that throughout the Inquiry’s work that person will be known by another title, such as Witness A, or Witness B. It also means that any reference to that person’s name or identifying details in documents will be blacked out by the Inquiry before the documents are published and/or given to Interested Parties.
When giving oral evidence to the Inquiry, that person’s identity will also not be given and they can be screened from the public during the hearing if they wish.
The publication of that person’s identity by any newspaper, radio or TV station, or on the internet or social media, will also be forbidden. The Inquiry will take any breaches of anonymity orders seriously and will take further action if necessary. For example, individuals may be banned from attending public hearings in the future.
- Q: What does giving evidence in private mean?
A: This means that a person will give oral evidence to the Inquiry, but no members of the public or media will be allowed into the hearing. The Inquiry’s hearing timetable will also not refer to the witness by name.
Any documents referred to during private hearings will not be added to the Inquiry’s website. The transcript of private hearings will also not be published on the website.
As this is a public hearing, evidence will only be heard in private if it is absolutely necessary.
- Q: What if I am granted anonymity by the Inquiry, or permitted to give evidence in private, and I make allegations or criticisms of others?
A: If the Inquiry thinks it is fair to do so, so that a person can respond to any allegations or criticisms made, the Inquiry may tell the person accused of the allegations or criticisms and who made the allegation or criticism. Before doing so, the Inquiry will make sure the person accused signs confidentiality undertakings to stop them from revealing the information to anyone else.