29th March 2012

INQUEST has long argued that the law should change so that inquests that potentially involve intercept material are not unnecessarily stalled because of the bar on the admissibility of this evidence, so we welcome the Independent Police Complaints Commission call for an amendment to section 17 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The IPCC statement comes on the back of a series of responses to the government Green Paper on Justice and Security from a range of organisations including the Metropolitan Police calling for an amendment to existing legislation (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, RIPA) to allow High Court judges acting as coroners, and families, to be allowed access to sensitive evidence at inquests. The answer is not, as the Government has proposed, the unnecessary introduction of secret hearings in inquests and civil cases.

Twice in last four years, the House of Lords amended legislation to make it possible for RIPA material to be disclosed to a High Court judge acting as coroner in these rare kinds of inquests. Those amendments, although ultimately rejected, were supported at the time by both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

This problem is actually extremely rare.  Yet government is currently attempting to address it by introducing sweeping powers that will mean families will never get to hear sensitive evidence at all.

Helen Shaw, co-director of INQUEST said:

Amending RIPA is a far more straightforward solution.  We urge the government to listen to the IPCC, the Metropolitan Police and the myriad of organisations and leading lawyers opposing the proposals in the Justice and Security Green Paper and adopt this more straightforward, fair and effective approach.

Above all, it is imperative that families, like the family of Mark Duggan, are able to find out the truth about why their relative died.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Metropolitan Police’s response to the consultation on the Justice and Security Green Paper can be found here
  2. A briefing on the proposed RIPA amendment, including the draft amendment itself, can be found here
  3. Further information about the Justice and Security Green Paper, including INQUEST’s submissions, can be accessed here