JUSTICE Working Party Chair Sir Robert Owen has today written to Dame Elish Angiolini, copying in the Home Secretary, in respect of the public inquiry into the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer. Dame Elish has considerable experience in inquiries and investigations, and we welcome her appointment as chair. Sir Robert’s letter draws attention to the JUSTICE report When Things Go Wrong: The response of the justice system and its recommendations which are of particular relevance to the Sarah Everard inquiry.
The letter identifies the crucial importance of the full cooperation of the relevant police forces, in particular the Metropolitan Police, for the inquiry to be effective. However, Sir Robert highlights that previous experience gives rise to serious concerns that Dame Elish will encounter institutional defensiveness. In the absence of a statutory inquiry or a statutory duty of candour, Sir Robert calls on Dame Elish to invite interested persons to the inquiry to expressly adopt Bishop James Jones’s Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy.
In respect of Part 2 of the inquiry, which is to address broader issues for policing and the protection of women, Sir Robert calls for Dame Elish to consider several recommendations from the JUSTICE report, including: consultation on the terms of reference and any panel for Part 2, ensuring effective participation for bereaved people and witnesses, and the potential role of the inquiry in monitoring the implementation of its recommendations to help ensure accountability and systemic change.
We hope the letter will help ensure that the Sarah Everard inquiry is effective, gains the public’s trust, and reflects the needs of all victims and bereaved people arising from police failures in the protection of women.
For enquiries, please contact Stephanie Needleman, Acting Legal Director.