December 2023

Reflecting on the history of our work, this report outlines how INQUEST have remained true to our roots; working alongside bereaved people, exposing the violence and neglect of the state and its institutions, and challenging failing systems of investigation and accountability. 

Unlocking the Truth: 40 years of INQUEST looks at moments of progress, hard fought campaigns, and positive changes.

It is a reminder that there is hope in this work, and that speaking truth to power truly can and does make a difference. It also highlights the work that still needs to be done.

Starting at the very beginning, INQUEST founding member Celia Stubbs explains:

“When I helped to set up INQUEST over forty years ago with four other family campaigns: Matthew O’Hara, Richard ‘Cartoon’ Campbell, Jimmy Kelly and Liddle Towers, I never imagined that we would be here all these decades later.”

This report provides a snapshot of INQUEST’s work. By no means a comprehensive history, it focusses on notable moments and achievements, both historical and in the present, by identifying thematic strands: 

  • How INQUEST works to support families,
  • the influence and expertise it shares and exerts,
  •  and how raising awareness and challenging state narratives has changed the landscape of how we view contentious deaths.

The report also looks at the key campaigning, legal and political impact INQUEST has made around its core mission: preventing deaths in state care, inquest reform, and accountability following mass fatalities.

“INQUEST should not have to exist, but at a time of increasing authoritarianism, austerity, inequality, and assault on human rights, it has never been more needed.”

– Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST