Press Notice 014

The Robert Hamill Inquiry will commence its full public hearings at the Interpoint Centre in Belfast today
12th January 2009

Note: this press notice is designed for use from 00.01 hours on Tuesday, 13th January but is not embargoed.

The Robert Hamill Inquiry will commence its full public hearings at the Interpoint Centre in Belfast today [10.30am, Tuesday, 13th January]. Robert Hamill died following an incident in Portadown, County Armagh, on 27th April, 1997. The Inquiry is examining the role of the then Royal Ulster Constabulary with regard to the circumstances surrounding Mr Hamill's death and the subsequent investigation into his death. The Inquiry will also examine the role of the Northern Ireland Director for Public Prosecutions in relation to the police investigation.

Proceedings will begin at 10.30am with opening remarks by the Inquiry's Chairman, Sir Edwin Jowitt. This will be followed by an opening address from Leading Counsel to the Inquiry, Ashley Underwood QC, which will set out the structure of the Inquiry, and the main issues to be considered. Legal representatives for the main interested parties to the Inquiry will then be given an opportunity to make opening addresses if they wish.

The Inquiry will hear evidence from approximately 160 witnesses who will appear in person. It is intended that most of this evidence will be heard by the end of May 2009, although the Inquiry has scheduled further sittings in September 2009 to hear any outstanding oral evidence. The Inquiry hopes to complete its report and present it to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by June 2010.

The Inquiry was set up by the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in November 2004. Since then, the Inquiry team has interviewed over 230 prospective witnesses, and has collated and reviewed over 20,000 documents.

The Inquiry's Chairman is Sir Edwin Jowitt, who was a Justice of the High Court, Queen's Bench Division, from 1988 to 2000. The other members of the Inquiry Panel are Reverend Baroness (Kathleen) Richardson of Calow, who is currently the Moderator of the Churches' Commission for Inter Faith Relations, and Sir John Evans, who was Chief Constable of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary between 1989 and 2002, during which time he was also President of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The Inquiry is open the public. Details of forthcoming proceedings will be posted regularly on the Inquiry's website (, and a full transcript of each day's proceedings will be available on the website the following day.


Editors' notes:

  1. Any media representatives who wish to attend the Inquiry on 13th January must notify the Inquiry's Press Officer, Liz Fawcett in advance and must bring photographic ID with them. You should note that, due to restrictions on space, we are not able to accommodate any more TV camera operators additional to those about whom we have already been notified. Media representatives are required to be present at the Interpoint no later than 10am on 13th January to allow time for security checks and to ensure that proceedings can start promptly at 10.30am.
  2. Filming, photography and audio recording of the Chairman's opening remarks will be permitted where advance notice has been provided as in footnote 1 above and subject to any necessary restrictions on numbers. It should be noted that it is likely that any filming and photographs inside the Hearing Chamber will be restricted to images of Panel members and Leading Counsel to the Inquiry, Ashley Underwood QC. Photographers and camera crews will receive further guidance on this on the day.
  3. Photographs of the Inquiry Panel's three members are being issued to picture desks. Please contact Liz Fawcett if you haven't received those photos and would like copies.
  4. Embargoed copies of the opening remarks by Sir Edwin Jowitt and the opening address by Ashley Underwood QC are also being issued with this press statement. You should note that Sir Edwin's opening remarks are strictly embargoed until he has finished speaking (at approximately 11am). You should also note that Mr Underwood's opening address is embargoed until delivery, with the exception of paragraphs 1-23 inclusive which are embargoed for use either until delivery or 12 noon, whichever is earlier.
  5. The Inquiry's terms of reference are:

    To inquire into the death of Robert Hamill with a view to determining whether any wrongful act or omission by or within the Royal Ulster Constabulary facilitated his death or obstructed the investigation of it, or whether attempts were made to do so; whether any such act or omission was intentional or negligent; whether the investigation of his death was carried out with due diligence; and to make recommendations.
  6. The Inquiry was established on 16 November 2004 when the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, announced the terms of reference for the inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill following an incident in Portadown, County Armagh on 27 April 1997.
  7. On 13th January, following the opening remarks by the Inquiry's Chairman and the opening address by the Inquiry's Leading Counsel, legal representatives for the interested parties will make their opening addresses in the following order:

    Leading Counsel for Hamill family: Barra McGrory QC

    (to be confirmed) Leading Counsel for one of the key witnesses, P61 (a former RUC Reserve Constable): Margaret Ann Dinsmore QC.

    It should be noted that Leading Counsel for the PSNI, Richard Ferguson QC, has elected not to make an opening address.
  8. Further information regarding the Inquiry can be obtained from the Inquiry's website: or from the Press Officer to the Inquiry, Liz Fawcett, who can be contacted on +44 (0) 28 9020 0811 or +44 (0) 771 943 5662 (and at the Inquiry's Interpoint office on +44 (0) 9054 4978 between 13th and 16th January inclusive when Liz will not have direct access to her mobile between 10.30am and 4.30pm). Liz can also be contacted by E-mail on The Inquiry has produced two media information sheets which are available from Liz.

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