Abuse inquiry: No statement copies for alleged victims

image captionThe hearing took place in the High Court on Tuesday

Alleged abuse victims who give evidence at an inquiry into children's homes in NI have no legal right to copies of their statements, a judge has ruled.

The High Court judge said the records were the property of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

His verdict came in a legal challenge by a woman who claims she was subjected to physical and psychological abuse.

The abuse was alleged to have taken place at Nazareth House care home in Belfast between 1971-1976.

The woman made a statement to the inquiry's confidential acknowledgment forum but was denied a transcript or recording of her account.

Her request was refused on the basis of preserving the confidentiality of the work being undertaken.

The woman brought a judicial review challenge to the decision, claiming she had a right to a copy of the record of her evidence to the forum.

'No unfairness'

However, the judge found there was no authority for her contention.

According to the judge, there was no unfairness in the inquiry chairman determining that such evidence should just be released to its inquiry legal team, and only then in respect of those individuals who wished to engage with the inquiry.

Dismissing the judicial review, he ruled that no arguable public law grounds had been established against the chairman's decision.

The judge also noted that the inquiry has received requests from different solicitors seeking the record of the proceedings before the acknowledgement forum.

He said it should be made clear that this confidential procedure was not intended as an evidence-gathering forum for claimants and their lawyers who wish to purpose civil claims on their behalf.