Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:38 am on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 11:38 am, 18th July 2019

I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement and agree with others that much of it is to be welcomed. However, like others I regret the decision not to hold an independent judge-led inquiry. The arguments that the Gibson and ISC investigations obviate the need for an independent judge-led inquiry do not hold water, because, as Mr Grieve said, the ISC’s investigation took place under such severe Government restrictions that, as the Committee itself states, it was left unable to conduct an authoritative inquiry or produce a credible report. As a result, the ISC chose to classify its report and its conclusions as provisional and warned that it must not be taken as a comprehensive account. Does the Minister not see that the only way to take the work of the ISC forward and properly address what went wrong is to establish an inquiry with the necessary powers to follow the leads that the ISC could not? Obviously, some aspects of that inquiry could not be held in public, although others could, and the right model for this is an independent judge-led inquiry with the full powers of such a judge-led inquiry in relation to the production of evidence and the attendance of witnesses, along with the independent ability to assess all the evidence and make a determination as to what cannot be published for national security reasons. Does the Minister not see that such an inquiry would not be required to start from scratch? It could take the ISC findings as a base, and they could provide a clear road map for a future investigation. A judge-led inquiry could focus on answering the unanswered questions, reviewing the unexplored cases and examining the evidence the ISC was not able to see. With such considerations in mind, can the Minister not see that there is unfinished business here, and does he think that the incoming Administration might reconsider this decision, having regard to the points I have made?