General FAQs

Public inquiries are investigations into issues of public concern and are independent of Government. They are set up to find out what happened, why it happened, and to make recommendations to try to prevent what has gone wrong from happening again.

You can read more about the purpose of inquiries, and how they work, here.

A non-statutory inquiry can be set up by any person or body into any given subject and is not governed by the Inquiries Act 2005, or the Inquiry Rules 2006. As with this Inquiry, a non-statutory inquiry can be converted into a statutory inquiry during its investigations.

Statutory inquiries are governed by the Inquiries Act 2005. This means that they have greater powers to compel witnesses to give evidence, in writing or orally, and to require the production of documents. Importantly, only a minister can initiate a statutory inquiry.

Failure, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a requirement made by a statutory inquiry is an offence.

No. A public inquiry, unlike proceedings in court, is not adversarial. It is inquisitorial and fact-finding in nature. An inquiry cannot make any finding of criminal or civil liability against any person or organisation.

If appropriate, inquiries can identify where failings have occurred, and make criticisms as well as recommendations for the future. In addition, inquiries may refer matters on to other organisations (such as the police or professional regulators).

A non-statutory inquiry into mental health inpatient deaths in Essex was first announced by the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, Nadine Dorries MP, on 21 January 2021. The reasons for the inquiry are set out in her statement to Parliament, which can be accessed here. It was established in April 2021 as the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry.

On 28 June 2023, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, announced that the Inquiry would receive statutory status.

A formal notice to convert the Inquiry was issued by the Department of Health and Social Care on 27 October 2023. The Inquiry was then re-launched as the Lampard Inquiry on 1 November 2023.

The Inquiry will investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of mental health inpatients under the care of NHS Trusts in Essex.

Baroness Lampard held a public consultation on the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference between 1 and 28 November 2023.

On 10 April 2024, the final Terms of Reference were published in parliament. You can find them here.

You can also read our Terms of Reference FAQs, here.

The Independent Inquiry chair requested conversion to a statutory inquiry under the Inquires Act 2005 to enable a full investigation of the deaths of mental health inpatients under the care of NHS Trusts in Essex.

Conversion will allow the Inquiry to:

  • Secure essential evidence from both organisations and individuals;
  • Provide the necessary framework, protections and clarity to any organisation or individual sharing evidence; and
  • Provide structure and support to those identified as Core Participants.

It is important to note that this change will likely alter how the Inquiry obtains evidence. We will provide an update on this, including a revised timeline for proceedings, in due course.

The Inquiry is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, although it operates independently. Annual financial reports will be published on the Inquiry website.

Baroness Kate Lampard CBE. You can read more about Baroness Lampard here.

The Chair is responsible for investigating matters in line with the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, and supervising progress. She decides its procedures, subject to the requirements of the Inquiries Act 2005 and other legal duties.

The Chair will publish her findings and recommendations in a report.

The Chair is supported by an Inquiry team. This is made up of the Secretariat, who assist with all aspects of running the Inquiry, solicitors, counsel and policy advisors. Where appropriate, the Chair will also obtain the views of experts and assessors.

Baroness Lampard was appointed by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. However, as Chair of the Inquiry she is independent of Government and of the Department for Health and Social Care.

The Lampard Inquiry is now a statutory inquiry and will be run in accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005. The Chair will also apply the Inquiry Rules 2006, which provide further structure on how an inquiry should be run.

However, the Chair has a lot of flexibility to determine the approach of the Inquiry and how it will go about its investigations.

More information on the Inquiry’s approach will be published in due course.

Baroness Lampard remains committed to publishing her report as soon as possible, while ensuring thorough investigations. We will publish our intended timescales for the entire work of the Inquiry and final report in due course.

In accordance with the duty to act fairly, those who may be subject to significant or explicit criticism in the Chair’s final report will be afforded the opportunity to respond to any such criticism before publication.

Section 40 of the Inquiries Act 2005 enables the Chair to award expenses and legal costs to those who give evidence to a statutory inquiry, whether or not they are Core Participants.

The Inquiry’s Protocol on Legal Costs provides more information on eligibility for legal representation at public expense, which can be found here, along with the application form.

More information on Core Participants and the role of witnesses is available here.

Witness expenses, for example those generated in connection with attending the Inquiry or providing evidence, may be awarded by the Chair if they are reasonably incurred.

You can find out how to make a claim for expenses here.

The Inquiry will publish updates on its work, including future hearing dates, further protocols, relevant documents and ultimately the Chair’s report, on its website.

It will also send important information out to those who have asked to be updated by email, and will post news to its social media channels.

The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act but will endeavour to conduct proceedings as openly and transparently as possible. As part of this, information that can be published will be available on the Inquiry’s website.

If you have any questions about this, please email or leave a voicemail on 020 7972 3500. Alternatively, you can write to the Inquiry – The Lampard Inquiry, PO Box 78136, LONDON, SW1P 9WW.

If you wish to make a complaint about the running of the Inquiry or any other matters related to the Inquiry’s work, please email or leave a voicemail on 020 7972 3500. Alternatively, you can write to the Inquiry – The Lampard Inquiry, PO Box 78136, LONDON, SW1P 9WW.

Your complaint will be directed to the Secretary or Deputy Secretary to the Inquiry and will be responded to within 14 days.

Further details on the Inquiry’s complaints policy can be found here.

The Inquiry team can be contacted via:

Alternatively, you can write to the Inquiry via the following postal address: The Lampard Inquiry, PO Box 78136, LONDON, SW1P 9WW.