Press Notice 004

Anonymity ruling
16th August 2006

The Robert Hamill Inquiry has now ruled on applications made by a large number of ex RUC officers who are likely to give evidence before the Inquiry, that they should give evidence anonymously and behind screens. With the exception of one individual, all applications were refused.

The Panel has considered fully all evidence put before it both oral and written and has taken into account submissions made by the Applicants, all interested parties and Counsel to the Inquiry. In addition, the Panel considered papers submitted by the Committee for the Administration of Justice and the British Irish Rights Watch. A transcript of the ruling can be found at

Notes for Editors

This is a public inquiry and that means the hearing will be conducted in public unless exceptionally and only for good reason evidence should be given in a manner which prevents the identity of the witness being made public.

A number of individuals (the majority of which were former or serving police officers), applied for anonymity, in other words they applied to keep their names out of the public domain and/or for them to be screened whilst giving their evidence. A number of police officers, who will be required to give evidence, did not apply either for anonymity or screening.

Before reaching its decision, the Panel considered fully all evidence which it considered material to obtain or which was put before it. There was an oral hearing in May 2006, at which the applicants and all interested parties were represented. The Panel considered documentation and heard the oral evidence of some of the individual applicants. Furthermore, the Panel had regard to written submissions made by Counsel for the Applicants, by the Solicitor for the Hamill family, by the PSNI, by the British Irish Rights Watch, by the Committee for the Administration of Justice and by Counsel to the Inquiry. In particular, the Panel had regard to the reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission.

The applicants referred to evidence, which they said showed that all serving and former police officers and members of their family were at risk of death or injury from attacks upon them by paramilitaries and that risk was enhanced materially in the case of officers required to give evidence to the Inquiry. Some applicants also relied on medical reports.

The Panel approached the applications in two ways. Firstly, it asked itself whether giving evidence to the Inquiry openly would materially increase the risk to any serving or former officer. It adopted the position that if such a material increase existed, then anonymity and/or screening would be granted. Secondly, if giving evidence openly would not materially increase the risk, the Panel would grant anonymity and/or screening if a fair and humane balance of the applicant’s fears against other factors called for it.

The Panel decided to grant anonymity, when giving evidence, to one applicant in the result of medical evidence so compelling that it outweighed all other considerations. The issue of screening of that witness will be reconsidered at the hearing.

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