The statements here are the statement to Parliament announcing the establishment of the Inquiry, and the statement to Parliament about the Ministers' Determination concerning awards for legal representation.
Question by Alex Neil MSP: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will make a statement about establishing a public judicial inquiry into the Shirley McKie case.
Answer by Kenny MacAskill MSP, Justice Secretary:
The Shirley McKie case has cast a cloud over the individuals involved and has been a source of serious concern for the criminal justice system for the past decade. Previous reviews have helped to shed some light on matters, but they have not fully explained the events and, therefore, have not entirely dispersed that cloud. Public concern remains.
The Scottish Government has given a commitment, therefore, that it will establish an independent, public, judicial inquiry into the case. The inquiry will be constituted under the Inquiries Act 2005 and subject to the Inquiries (Scotland) Rules 2007. In accordance with section 6 of the 2005 act, I am announcing today that the chairman will be Lord Justice Sir Anthony Campbell, one of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal judges. At this point, I have no plans to appoint any other person to the inquiry panel.
Having consulted with Lord Justice Campbell, as required by section 5 of the 2005 act, I have determined that the inquiry’s terms of reference will be:
The Scottish legal system has served Scotland well for centuries. Occasionally things go wrong. When they do, it is to the credit of the system and the country that we seek to resolve them and set matters right. The purpose of this inquiry is not to try or retry any individual for the events of the past, nor to challenge the decisions of the prosecution, the defence or the courts in relation to any of those events. Indeed, the law is quite explicit that an inquiry cannot rule on, and has no power to determine, any person’s civil or criminal liability.
The purpose is to open up and understand those events and to learn from them, in order to ensure that, for the future, Scotland has an approach to the identification, verification and presentation of fingerprints that everyone can trust. For this purpose, the inquiry will have at its disposal the full powers bestowed by the 2005 act, including powers relating to access to documents and witnesses.For its part, the Scottish Government will volunteer any material that it holds and which might be useful to the inquiry. The Lord Advocate has also made clear that she will, exceptionally, make available to the inquiry any material that the Crown Office holds and which might be useful to the inquiry, including the Mackay report, Crown precognitions and reports by Crown Office officials.
Additionally, if requested by the inquiry, Ministers and officials from both the Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will appear in person to provide an account of their knowledge of events. Nothing will be hidden from the inquiry. For the purposes of the 2005 act, the inquiry’s "setting-up date" is today. Lord Justice Campbell will remain focused on his existing judicial duties in Northern Ireland until the end of August and he will not be taking evidence or representations until then. It is anticipated, however, that the planning and preparatory work that is necessary for the inquiry will begin now under his guidance. Future public announcements about the conduct of the inquiry will be made by the inquiry team in due course.
Alex Neil (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether, in relation to the Shirley McKie inquiry announced on 14 March 2008, it intends to take steps to control the costs of the inquiry.
Answer by Kenny MacAskill MSP, Justice Secretary
In the answer to question S3W-11870 on 24 April 2008, I confirmed that the Scottish Government would take all reasonable steps to control the costs of the inquiry. Having particular regard to the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005, measures will be adopted to ensure that this inquiry will be able to operate in a cost-effective manner, while having the resources to fulfil its remit.
Section 40(4) of the Inquiries Act contains a power for ministers to place conditions or qualifications on any awards that the chairman of the inquiry may make under section 40(1) and 40(2) in respect of compensation, expenses or legal representation. After discussions with the Inquiry, I have decided to issue a notice of determination under section 40(4) in respect of awards for legal representation. The terms of that notice are as follows:
"The Scottish Ministers have determined, under section 40(4) of the Inquiries Act 2005 ("the 2005 Act"), that as regards the inquiry set up on 14 March 2008 and concerning the fingerprints associated with HMA -v- McKie in 1999, the power of the chairman of the inquiry to award amounts in respect of legal representation under section 40(1) and (2) of that Act shall be subject to the qualifications and conditions set out below.
The qualifications and conditions are:
This determination has been made on a preparatory basis. As indicated on 14 March in my answer to question S3W-10920, the chairman of the inquiry will remain focused on his existing judicial duties until the end of August.