Friday, 13 July 2012

Mr Gardiner's factual inaccuracies on 16 March

When specialists in their field such as coroners and forensic pathologists make factual errors in their statements and reports then one's confidence in their reliabilty as experts is diminished.  In normal circumstances you and I would, I imagine, be prepared to accept what they say without demur.  When they are just plain wrong about something then the question arises as to whether it is laziness or carelessness, an arrogant disregard for factual accuracy perhaps.  It would be quite wrong though to tar every such expert with the same brush ... it's just unfortunate that Mr Gardiner, Dr Hunt, Dr Allan and Mr Green have all given rise to concern about what they have written or said.

In the case of Mr Gardiner it was vital that his pronouncements on 16 March 2004 were factually correct.  Well, they weren't.  One particular instance involved him misdirecting himself and this was touched on in my penultimate paragraph in this post:
Mr Gardiner was making the point that the Hutton Inquiry was lacking in powers (correct of course) but that all public inquiries similarly lack the powers given to a coroner.  A statutory public inquiry set up by parliament would certainly have the powers of compellability and taking evidence under oath, powers that Mr Gardiner enjoyed by right.  For Mr Gardiner to have failed to understand this is extremely concerning.

Another instance of Mr Gardiner getting it wrong on the 16th occurred here:

The Act does not seek to define "exceptional reason".  A Public Inquiry of this sort is in itself exceptional, I understand that the provisions of Section 17(A)1 have only been utilised on three occasions, the latest in 1999, and none of them related to the death of a single individual.

In fact it was first used in Lord Cullen's Inquiry following the Ladbroke Grove train collision of 5 October 1999It was also used in the Shipman Inquiry chaired by Dame Janet Smith which began its hearings in 2001 and lastly in Mr Justice Steel's re-opened Formal Investigation into the sinking of the fishing boat Gaul. 

I certainly don't claim to be infallible but if I was a coroner I wouldn't be very happy if I was responsible for the sort of errors made by Mr Gardiner.

No comments:

Post a Comment