Cassandra Somers-Joce: Public Inquiries, the Public Record, and Governmental Accountability – UK Constitutional Law Association

Posted December 20th, 2023 in constitutional law, disclosure, government departments, inquiries, news by sally

‘“Public inquiries are one of Britain’s only growth industries,” the Financial Times has suggested recently. Research from the Institute for Government demonstrates that there were 69 public inquiries launched between 1990 and 2017, compared with 19 in the previous 30 years. Several high-profile public inquiries are open at time of writing, including the Grenfell Inquiry, the Covid-19 Inquiry, and the Post Office Horizon Inquiry. The near-constant media coverage of the Covid-19 Inquiry, chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, serves as a reminder of the role that public inquiries play in ensuring accountability and scrutiny. Each week of the Covid-19 Inquiry has painted a fuller picture of governmental decision making during the pandemic. The Covid-19 Inquiry has, however, demonstrated the shortcomings in governmental record-keeping and disclosure, particularly with respect to decisions which were taken via private communications platforms such as WhatsApp.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 20th December 2023