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The Inquiry

Information about the Inquiry team and the work of the Inquiry

  1. Who we are
  2. What we do
  3. How we work
  4. What we can do

1. Who we are

The Inquiry Chair

Lady Smith was appointed a Judge of the Supreme courts in 2001 and was appointed to the Inner House in November 2012. She is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh (LL.B. Hons). Lady Smith was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1980 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1993. She served as a Temporary Sheriff from 1995 to 1999, was Chair of the Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse from 1998 to 2000 and served as Advocate Depute from 2000 until she was appointed a Judge.

Having a long standing interest in and experience of cases involving children and families, Lady Smith chaired the Advocates Family Law Group. Similarly, on account of her interest in and experience of cases involving breaches of duty by professional persons, she chaired the Advocates Professional Negligence Group.

Lady Smith has carried out a wide range of duties as a judge, including serving as the Scottish Employment Appeal Tribunal judge for eight years between 2004 and 2012, chairing the Scottish Tribunal Forum and chairing the Reserved Tribunals Group. Lady Smith was appointed as the first President of the Scottish Tribunals in July 2014.

The Chair is supported by the Secretariat, a Legal Team and Counsel to the Inquiry.

The Inquiry Team

The Secretariat

The Secretariat is the administrative team which supports the Inquiry Chair and assists them to conduct the work of the Inquiry. The team is responsible for the administration of the Inquiry, including the leasing of premises for hearings, and the provision of IT and other essential services. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary to the Inquiry. The Secretary to the Inquiry is Julie-Anne Jamieson.

The Legal Team

The Inquiry has its own Legal Team, which provides legal advice to the Inquiry Chair and Secretariat. The Legal Team is headed by the Solicitor to the Inquiry. The Solicitor to the Inquiry is Andrea Summers.

Counsel to the Inquiry

The Chair has also appointed Counsel to the Inquiry. Counsel will lead the Inquiry investigations, participate in the provision of legal advice, and in due course appear at the Inquiry’s oral hearings. The Counsel Team is headed by Senior Counsel to the Inquiry. Senior Counsel to the Inquiry are:

  • Colin J. MacAulay KC, Lead Senior Counsel
  • James A. Peoples KC, Lead Senior Counsel

2. What we do

The work of the Inquiry

Our task has been set by the Scottish Ministers and written down in what are called our “Terms of Reference”. Only the Scottish Ministers can change the Terms of Reference. The Chair does not have the power to do so.

In summary, we are looking at the abuse of children in care in Scotland. We look at what happened, why and where abuse took place, the effects of abuse on children and their families and whether the organisations responsible for children in care failed in their duties. We look at whether any failures have been corrected and if changes to the law, policies or procedures are needed.

At the end of the Inquiry we will publish a report with recommendations. We must present the report to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

For information about what we do, recent news, our protocols and application forms, you can check this website. Or you can contact our witness support team:

3. How we work

Standards expected from anyone involved in the Inquiry

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 is relevant rather than relying on others to choose what evidence to present to us. We investigate particular establishments and look more closely at some of them in ‘case studies’, when witnesses give evidence in public hearings.  We pick the establishments we are investigating, which cover a range of care settings and different types of care providers, with reference to a range of factors, including allegations we have received, the nature of any such allegations, the existence of police investigations or convictions, information from previous non-statutory inquiries/reviews and on relevant information received from other sources.

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.

4. What we can do

The powers available to the Inquiry to carry out its task

The Chair of the Inquiry has a wide range of powers that she can use to help the Inquiry get its work done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

A key feature of the Chair’s power is the protocols which apply to how the Inquiry works. We will publish new protocols throughout the Inquiry as and when necessary.

We regularly update our protocols to make sure they are fit for purpose. A version number is shown at the bottom left of each page of a protocol. Our protocols can’t cover everything that might happen during the Inquiry. Where something unexpected or different happens, the Chair will decide how to proceed.

The Chair has the power to require people or organisations to give evidence or produce records and other documents. Giving evidence could be at a public hearing or in a written witness statement. If the person fails to do what is required it may be a criminal offence.

The Chair can issue instructions, called “directions” and “orders” about how the Inquiry should operate. For example, an order might set a deadline by which something must be done, such as producing a document to the Inquiry.

If you fail to do what is required by a direction or order, the Chair can refer your failure to the Court of Session. That Court will decide what action to take against you.

The Chair decides who should be a core participant to the Inquiry. A core participant is expected to have a significant role in the Inquiry. It could be a person, group, or organisation . For more information on what being a core participant means and how to apply see Core Participant - Protocol and Form

The Chair can agree to pay a person’s legal fees. However, you may not need legal representation to be involved with the Inquiry. For information on legal representation see our factsheet on legal representation.

If you decide you want to instruct a lawyer, and you can’t afford it, we may be able to help you with the cost. For more information and how to apply see Cost of legal representation - Protocol and form.

The Chair can agree to pay your expenses or earnings lost in relation to giving evidence to the Inquiry or handing over documents. For more information and how to apply see Expenses - Protocol and application form and Compensation for loss of time - Protocol and application form.

The Chair decides what evidence should be kept private. This can mean deciding that some information must not be shared, published or disclosed by anyone. For more information on this see Restriction order Protocol and form.


The Chair has made what is called a “restriction order” about keeping private the names of people who tell us they were abused (known as "applicants"). Lady Smith has made a further order protecting the identities of family members of applicants and the family members of people who are now deceased but who were, or could have been, applicants. You will find links to these orders at the foot of this page. This is a complicated and sensitive area so you are encouraged to read the Restriction order Protocol and form carefully to fully understand your position.

The Chair’s power to make orders can also be used to direct that evidence at a public hearing will be heard in private, in the presence of key people only. She can make arrangements so that a witness’ identity is kept private.