Inquiries Act 2005

The Inquiries Act 2005 (c 12) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. According to the explanatory notes, published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Act "is intended to provide a comprehensive statutory framework for inquiries set up by Ministers to look into matters of public concern".[4] The act repealed the entirety of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, a much shorter bill that also empowered Ministers to set up so-called statutory inquiries.[5] The act was motivated in part by the spiraling costs of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and a desire to control the length and cost of future inquiries.[6] The act has been criticised by a number of groups and individuals, generally concerned with the power Ministers have over the remit of the inquiry and the publication of its final report.[7][8]

Inquiries Act 2005[1]
Long titleAn Act to make provision about the holding of inquiries.
Citation2005 c 12
Territorial extent United Kingdom[2]
Royal assent7 April 2005
Commencement7 June 2005[3]
Other legislation
Repeals/revokesTribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 and other parts of acts
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended


The Parliament of the United Kingdom's Joint Committee on Human Rights has voiced concerns about certain aspects of the Act,[9] as have the Law Society of England and Wales.[10]

Amnesty International has asked members of the British judiciary not to serve on any inquiry held under the Act, as they contend that "any inquiry would be controlled by the executive which is empowered to block public scrutiny of state actions."[7]

The family of Pat Finucane, a solicitor killed by loyalist paramilitaries in Belfast in suspicious circumstances, have announced they will not be co-operating with a forthcoming inquiry into the events surrounding his death if it is held under the terms of the Act.[11]

The Canadian Judge Peter Cory, who was commissioned by the British and Irish governments to investigate the possibility of state collusion in six high-profile murders, is also a critic. He recommended public inquiries into four of the killings, but has strongly condemned the legislation that quickly followed. In a letter read at a hearing of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee while the legislation was pending, Cory stated:

it seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The Commissions would be working in an impossible situation. For example, the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step. It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the inquiry. If the new Act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed Act.

The chairman of the hearing, Representative Chris Smith, declared that "the bill pending before the British Parliament should be named the 'Public Inquiries Cover-up Bill.'"[12]

Indeed, the Act repealed the entirety of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 which had allowed Parliament to vote on a resolution establishing a tribunal that had "all such powers, rights, and privileges as are vested in the High Court"[13] and placed the power solely under the control of a Minister.[14]

Notable InquiriesEdit

As of November 2021 there have been 29 inquiries established under the act with a further two announced. Of these, 17 have completed costing a total of £158m.[15]

Active InquiriesEdit

Some of the highest profile, open inquiries authorised under the act include:

Former InquiresEdit

Repeals and revokesEdit

The Inquiries Act 2005 repealed or revoked all or part of the following acts of parliament or sections of acts:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 53 of this Act.
  2. ^ The Inquiries Act 2005, section 52
  3. ^ The Inquiries Act 2005, section 51; the Inquiries Act 2005 (Commencement) Order 2005 (S.I. 2005/1432 (C. 62)), article 2
  4. ^ Explanatory notes published by Department for Constitutional Affairs accompanying the act
  5. ^ "Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921",, The National Archives, 1978 c. 30
  6. ^ Ireton2014-03-27T13:02:00+00:00, Emma. "The Inquiries Act 2005 – fit for purpose?". Law Gazette. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b "UK – The Finucane Case: Judiciary must not take part in inquiry sham - Amnesty International". 25 August 2005. Archived from the original on 25 August 2005.
  8. ^ "Judges urged to boycott inquiries". The Guardian. 21 April 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Joint Committee On Human Rights - Fourth Report".
  10. ^ Ireton, Emma (27 March 2014). "The Inquiries Act 2005 – fit for purpose?". The Law Society Gazette. London. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  11. ^ Dyer, Clare (21 April 2005). "Judges urged to boycott inquiries". The Guardian. Northern Ireland. Retrieved 4 May 2005. Amnesty International yesterday urged all judges to refuse to sit on any inquiry set up by the government under the Inquiries Act 2005, including that into alleged state collusion in the death of the murdered Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane. The worldwide human rights organisation said it supported the call by Mr Finucane′s widow, Geraldine, to all senior judges in England, Scotland and Wales not to serve on an inquiry into her husband′s death held under the legislation...
  12. ^ "IAUC Pittsburgh/W. Pa. Newsletter". Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  13. ^ The Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, section 1(1) (Revised text as at 8 November 1995 from
  14. ^ "Iraq War Inquiry: 25 Mar 2009: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou.
  15. ^ House of Commons Library (2021), Statutory public inquiries: the Inquiries Act 2005. (SN06410)
  16. ^ "About | Grenfell Tower Inquiry". Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  17. ^ "About – Manchester Arena Inquiry". Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Post Office Horizon IT inquiry 2020". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Ex-senior judge Butler-Sloss to head child sex abuse inquiry". BBC News Online. 8 July 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  20. ^ Tim Jarrett (11 August 2016). The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and background (PDF) (Report). House of Commons Library. SN07040. Retrieved 12 August 2022. In February 2015, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced a new Inquiry would be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, thereby replacing the non-statutory Independent Inquiry Panel into Child Sexual Abuse that was established in July 2014.
  21. ^ "About the Inquiry | Infected Blood Inquiry". Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  22. ^ Boris Johnson, The Prime Minister (28 June 2022). "UK Covid-19 Inquiry". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Vol. 717. Parliament of the United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 15WS–16WS.
  23. ^ "Covid-19 Public Inquiry". Archived from the original on 15 February 2022. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  24. ^ "Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry 2013". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  25. ^ "The Litvinenko inquiry: report into the death of Alexander Litvinenko". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Leveson Inquiry - Report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 January 2022.

External linksEdit