Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Bloody Sunday Inquiry - Standard of Proof

Central to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is the question whether the shooting of civilians by soldiers was justified.

In 2004, the Inquiry was asked to make a ruling as to the standard of proof which would be applied.  The ruling may be read here.

An inquiry is a fact-finding exercise and does not determine criminal or civil liability.  In making its findings, the Saville Inquiry was not persuaded to apply the criminal standard of proof (or any enhanced civil standard of proof - see note below).  It was decided, very much in line with the approach taken by other inquiries such as Shipman, that reasoned conclusions on the evidence would be stated together with the degree of confidence or certainty with which a conclusion had been reached.

Note: In recent years there has been controversy over the standard of proof applicable to civil cases.  This was not put to rest until 2008 with the cases of Re Doherty [2008] UKHL33 and Re B (Children) [2008] UKHL 35.  There is the one civil standard (balance of probabilities) which is to be applied with some flexibility according to the seriousness of the allegations.  The ruling of the Saville Inquiry (above) avoided this debate.

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