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Departmental Inquiries

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what independent inquiries have been commissioned by his Department in the last five years; what the (a) purpose and (b) cost was of each; and what steps were taken following each. (211120)

In the last five years, the Ministry of Defence has commissioned the following independent inquiries and reviews:

The Baha Mousa Inquiry

We announced on 14 May 2008, Official Report, columns 60-61WS, an independent inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa, who died in British custody in Iraq in September 2003. The terms of reference are being determined.

The Review of the loss of MOD laptops

On 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1255, we announced an independent review of the loss of MOD data. The terms of reference are:

To establish the exact circumstances and events that led to the loss by MOD of personal data; to examine the adequacy of the steps taken to prevent any recurrence, and of MOD policy, practice and management arrangements in respect of the protection of personal data more generally; to make recommendations; and to report to MOD's Permanent Secretary not later than 30 April 2008.

The review is complete and a ministerial announcement will be made soon. The costs of this review were £44,961.

The Nimrod Review

On 4 December 2007, Official Report, column 685, we announced an independent review into the loss of RAF Nimrod XV230 in Afghanistan on 2 September 2006. The terms of reference are:

In light of the board of inquiry report: to examine the arrangements for assuring the airworthiness and safe operation of the Nimrod MR2 in the period from its introduction in 1979 to the accident on 2 September 2006, including hazard analysis, the safety case compiled in 2005, maintenance arrangements, and responses to any earlier incidents which might have highlighted the risk and led to corrective action;

To assess where responsibility lies for any failures and what lessons are to be learned;

To assess more broadly the process for compiling safety cases, taking account of best practice in the civilian and military world; and

To make recommendations to the Secretary of State as soon as practicable, if necessary by way of interim report.

This review is still under way.

The Iran Hostage Reviews

On 16 April 2007, Official Report, columns 23-26, we announced two reviews of Iran's illegal detention of 15 service personnel.

The first was on operational aspects of the incident including risk and threat assessment, strategic and operational planning, tactical decisions, rules of engagement, training, equipment and resources. The HCDC has been fully briefed on recommendations, and on progress in relation to the full implementation of the resulting action plan. The costs of this review were not collated centrally but were restricted to travel costs.

The terms of reference of the second were:

“To conduct a review of media access to individual personnel involved in operations, particularly in such high-profile incidents. The review is to draw on all relevant experience, including recent incidents and other high-profile incidents; consider how best to manage the complex issues at play, including in balancing our responsibilities to support our people and their families, to safeguard the security of our people and operations, to protect the reputation of the services, and to meet the requirements of transparency in a demanding media environment; and identify lessons and make recommendations for any necessary changes in policy, regulations, processes and practice, including in relation to media payments to our personnel.”

Where costs have been provided they do not include the staff costs of MOD personnel seconded to the review team.

The Government's response, accepting all the review's recommendations, was announced on 19 June 2007, Official Report, column 1255. The costs of this review were £7,200.

The Deepcut Review

On 30 November 2004, Official Report, column 500, we announced an independent review into the deaths of four soldiers at Deepcut barracks between 1995 and 2002. The terms of reference were:

Urgently to review the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four soldiers at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut between 1995 and 2002 in light of available material and any representations that might be made in this regard, and to produce a report.

The total cost of the review was £866,980. The Government's response was announced on 13 June 2006, Official Report, column 637W. Since then, Dr. Susan Atkins has been appointed as the first Service Complaints Commissioner, and a new service complaints process came into effect on 1 January 2008.