Press Notice 17

Referral to the High Court
25th March 2009

For immediate use


The Chairman of the Robert Hamill Inquiry, Sir Edwin Jowitt, has referred to the High Court the failure of a witness to attend the Inquiry to give oral evidence. The referral provides for the High Court to commence civil enforcement proceedings against Tracey Clarke to compel her to attend under section 36 of the Inquiries Act 2005.

Ms Clarke failed to attend an oral hearing on 28th January 2009 after the Chairman issued a notice the previous day to compel Ms Clarke to attend under section 21 of the Inquiries Act. Counsel for Ms Clarke said her non-attendance was due to a medical condition.

The Inquiry asked to see medical evidence in order to determine whether the notice should be varied or revoked. However, some eight weeks later, no medical evidence has been submitted in this regard.

A spokesperson for the Inquiry said: “The Inquiry regards Ms Clarke as a very important witness.”

She is the first witness who has failed to attend the Inquiry after being served with a notice issued  under section 21 of the Inquiries Act.



Editors’ notes

1.        The Inquiry’s terms of reference are as follows:

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.

2.        The Chairman of the Inquiry is Sir Edwin Jowitt, a retired Justice for the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division. The other members of the Inquiry Panel are Sir John Evans (former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers and retired Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary) and Reverend Baroness Richardson of Calow (Moderator of he Churches’ Commission for Inter Faith Relations).

3.        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.

4.        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 or at the Inquiry’s Belfast office on  +44 (0) 9054 4978. She can also be contacted by E-mail on  

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