17th October 2012

Tomorrow afternoon (Thursday 18 October), MPs will debate a motion put down by Labour MP David Lammy and the Conservative MP David Davis about the use of intercept evidence in inquests. The parliamentary motion notes with concern that the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan may never commence under the current arrangements for the use of intercept evidence in courts and inquests; and calls on the Government to review its approach to open justice, in particular the use of intercept evidence in courts and inquests”.

Currently, evidence that engages the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) cannot be considered by a coroner conducting an inquest into deaths. INQUEST has been calling for reform since it became clear in 2006 that this meant the inquest into the fatal shooting by police of Azelle Rodney could not take place.

INQUEST welcomes this important opportunity to discuss the problem and solutions to the current legal impasse. Our briefing for MPs argues that the law must be amended to allow the disclosure of RIPA material to bereaved families, their legal teams and the jury at an inquest. To address the existing problem, INQUEST has suggested the law is changed so that the newly-appointed Chief Coroner is able to decide whether information contained in intercept evidence is central to the matters that need to be considered at an inquest and to whom it should be disclosed.

The widespread recognition of the need for reform includes INQUEST, the IPCC, the Metropolitan Police, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, leading lawyers and civil liberty organisations.

Helen Shaw, Co-Director of INQUEST said:

“This is a timely and important debate and we hope the government will listen carefully to the concerns of MPs who join a wide spectrum of opinion that recognises the need for legislative change so that inquests can consider intercept evidence. The recent appointment of the Chief Coroner means that a simple but urgent change to the law can be made that both protects the public interest and ensures robust and transparent inquests can take place following contentious deaths.”


Notes to editors:

  1. INQUEST’S briefing is available here
  1. INQUEST is working with both the family of Azelle Rodney (represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Daniel Machover, Hickman and Rose solicitors and barristers Adam Straw, Tooks Chambers and Leslie Thomas, Garden Court Chambers) and the family of Mark Duggan (represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Marcia Willis Stewart, Birnbergs solicitors and barristers Adam Straw, Leslie Thomas and Mike Mansfield QC, Tooks Chambers).
  1. The Azelle Rodney Inquiry hearings began on 3 September 2012 http://azellerodneyinquiry.independent.gov.uk/