I am announcing today the conversion of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) investigation of Brook House immigration removal centre to a statutory inquiry, in accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005. This Inquiry will investigate the mistreatment of detainees at Brook House immigration removal centre broadcast in the BBC Panorama programme ‘Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets’ on 4 September 2017.
The Government takes any allegation of mistreatment, and the welfare of immigration detainees, very seriously, and I want to establish the facts of what took place at Brook House and ensure that lessons are learnt to prevent these shocking events happening again.
Sue McAllister, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, had appointed Kate Eves to lead their special investigation into Brook House. Following conversion of the special investigation into an inquiry, Sue McAllister, as Ombudsman, was automatically appointed as the chair. However, to ensure continuity with their investigation I have agreed that Sue McAllister will recuse herself and Kate Eves will take up the position of inquiry chair. Kate Eves is an experienced and highly qualified investigator within custodial environments.
I have consulted with both Sue McAllister and with Kate Eves to confirm that the inquiry will have a similar scope to the PPO special investigation.
From today, the Inquiry will have statutory powers to compel witnesses and establish the truth of what took place at Brook House.
I wish Kate Eves and all at the Inquiry every success in taking forward this important piece of work.
The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are set out below:
To investigate into and report on the decisions, actions and circumstances surrounding the mistreatment of detainees broadcast in the BBC Panorama programme ‘Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets’ on 4 September 2017.
To reach conclusions with regard to the treatment of detainees where there is credible evidence of mistreatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR; and then make any such recommendations as may seem appropriate. In particular the inquiry will investigate:
1) The treatment of complainants, including identifying whether there has been mistreatment and identifying responsibility for any mistreatment.
2) Whether methods, policies, practices and management arrangements (both of the Home Office and its contractors) caused or contributed to any identified mistreatment.
3) Whether any changes to these methods, policies, practices and management arrangements would help to prevent a recurrence of any identified mistreatment.
4) Whether any clinical care issues caused or contributed to any identified mistreatment.
5) Whether any changes to clinical care would help to prevent a recurrence of any identified mistreatment.
6) The adequacy of the complaints and monitoring mechanisms provided by Home Office Immigration Enforcement and external bodies (including, but not limited to, the centre’s independent monitoring board and statutory role of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons) in respect of any identified mistreatment.
For the purpose of the inquiry, the term “complainants” is used to refer to any individual who was detained at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre during the period 1 April 2017 to 31 August 2017 where there is credible evidence of mistreatment of that individual.
“Mistreatment” is used to refer to treatment that is contrary to Article 3 ECHR.
The Inquiry should in particular include investigation in to the mistreatment of complainants known (in the recent Brook House litigation) as MA and BB.
The Inquiry may wish to draw upon the evidence and findings of the previous special investigation in to the events at Brook House, conducted by the PPO, before it was converted to a statutory inquiry.
As a statutory inquiry, the Inquiry will operate within the legal framework provided by the Inquiries Act 2005. As such, the procedure and conduct of the Inquiry are to be directed by the chairman.
The Inquiry should be undertaken with sufficient pace to enable resulting recommendations to be implemented as quickly and effectively as possible. It is expected, on the basis of current information, that the Inquiry will make its best endeavours to complete work and produce a final report to the Home Secretary, setting out their findings of fact and recommendations, within 12 months.
The Inquiry will have full access to all the material it seeks.
The Inquiry will bear the legal expenses for any individuals designated as core participant status by the Inquiry chairperson.
It is not part of the Inquiry’s function to determine civil or criminal liability of named individuals or organisations. This should not, however, inhibit the Inquiry from reaching findings of fact relevant to its terms of reference.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords