Grenfell Tower fire: What are public inquiries and what happens?

A public inquiry will be held into the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: PA.
A public inquiry will be held into the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: PA.

The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster will move a step closer on Thursday as Sir Martin Moore-Bick is appointed to lead the investigation.

Here are some questions and answers about public inquiries:

:: What is a public inquiry?

Public inquiries are set up by the Government to look into matters of serious concern and can either be led by a single person or a panel.

:: What are some recent examples of public inquiries?

Two well-known examples of inquiries are the Leveson inquiry into press standards, and the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War.

:: What happens at the end of an inqury?

The focus of an inquiry is to find out what happened and see what can be done to make sure it does not happen again. To achieve this, the chairman or panel will produce recommendations as part of a report but the Government is not bound to put these into practice.

:: How are inquiries conducted?

Usually they are held in public, with the chairman given the power to restrict attendance or access to documents if needed. Notable participants and witnesses may have their evidence broadcast live on television.

:: How long do public inquiries last?

It varies. Some are concluded relatively quickly - the probe into the Ladbroke Grove and Southall rail crash began in September 2000 and the report was issued three months later - while the Al-Sweady Inquiry into accusations of mistreatment of Iraqi nationals by British soldiers took five years.