We are committed to working in as open and transparent a manner as possible. That does not mean that we will provide a running commentary on our work; that is not how Inquiries work and would not be in the interests of those involved.
One of our key aims is to ensure all witnesses are treated fairly.
We are independent. We always act independently of any person, group, organisation or body. We are not part of the Scottish Government. We are independent of Scottish Government.
We carry out our investigations and hearings as part of what is called an “inquisitorial” process. This means we investigate the matters we have to look into and decide what matters rather than relying on others to choose what evidence to present to us about those matters.
An inquisitorial process does not involve putting anyone on trial. No one is treated by us as if they are facing a criminal charge. We can’t decide if anyone has committed a crime or is at fault in law, nor can we award damages or compensation. These matters can only be decided by the courts.
We can decide what facts are established.
The Chair of the Inquiry must act fairly when she makes any decision about how the conduct of the Inquiry and how it should proceed; she must also have regard to the need to avoid unnecessary cost.
We are a public inquiry. Where possible, hearings will be held in public. In some situations the Chair may decide to hold a hearing in private or in a way which keeps private the identity of the witness.
We hear evidence at public hearings. We also gather evidence by obtaining witness statements and records and other documents. We can carry out our own research, and we can ask others to obtain information for us. We can ask experts to prepare reports.
We do all we can to accommodate the needs of witnesses who are elderly or in poor health. We expect everyone involved in the Inquiry to respect the dignity of every witness.
We expect everyone to adopt a co-operative, constructive and sensitive approach to our important work. Good and efficient working relationships are essential to ensure that we complete the task given to us, to the best of our ability and as efficiently as possible.