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Public Inquiry

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 30 March 2010

Statement

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am announcing today the Government's intention to establish an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate the death of Azelle Rodney in April 2005. The inquiry will be established by the Ministry of Justice.

It is intended that this inquiry will be chaired by a retired judge and that, subject to his or her views, it will determine the matters which an Article 2 compliant inquest would have determined had it been able to take place. These are: how, when and where Mr Rodney died, and the broad circumstances which led to his death.

The inquest into the death has been adjourned by the North London Coroner since August 2007. The coroner and, most importantly, the bereaved relatives of Mr Rodney have been given advance notice of this decision.

During debate on the Coroners and Justice Bill, I said that any inquiry established because an inquest cannot be held would be subject to a protocol between Ministers and the senior judiciary. This protocol is intended to cover the procedure from the point the inquest cannot continue until when the inquiry is established.

I have been working with colleagues across government on the terms of the protocol but it has raised some complex issues and is not yet ready for use. As the inquest into Mr Rodney's death is already adjourned and cannot continue, I have decided that an inquiry should be established to avoid further delay for Mr Rodney's family. A further announcement on the inquiry chair and its terms of reference will be made as soon as possible.