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Cullen review publishes FAI consultation

20 November 2008

The review of fatal accident inquiries, headed by the former Lord President Lord Cullen of Whitekirk, today published the issues it has identified on which responses are invited from the public.

Since June, when the review began work, it has received representations from a number of individuals and interest groups and sought comments from others. Now its consultation paper, available on the Scottish Government website (link here), sets out 22 questions asking whether change is needed and if so, in what form.

General topics include the purpose and features of an FAI under the current 1976 legislation; whether it should continue to be held in the sheriff court; whether specialist procurators fiscal should conduct inquiries; and whether inquiries should be able to investigate the deaths of Scots abroad and multiple deaths in more than one jurisdiction.

There are also questions about which deaths should be the subject of a mandatory inquiry; support of relatives; and legal aid. Procedural matters include reducing delay; preliminary hearings; independent experts and assessors; and the admissibility of evidence.

Finally, the review asks how the resulting recommendations should be recorded, and action monitored.

Lord Cullen said: "From representations that we have received so far, it is apparent that there is a desire for reform in some areas of the fatal accident inquiry system. However, I have not reached any conclusion on the questions that have been posed."

Responses to the consultation are invited by 20 February 2009. After that more specific consultations on individual topics may be conducted before any conclusions are reached. Lord Cullen's final report is due later next year.