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Secretary of State announces Chair of the Omagh Bombing Inquiry

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Right Honourable Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has appointed The Rt Hon Lord Turnbull as Chair of the Omagh Bombing Inquiry.

In February, the Secretary of State announced the government’s intention to establish an independent statutory inquiry into the preventability of the Omagh Bombing. The Real IRA-perpetrated atrocity in August 1998 killed 29 people and two unborn children, and injured 220 others.

The Inquiry will be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.

Lord Turnbull has had a distinguished judicial career in Scotland, serving most recently in Scotland’s Supreme Courts. His appointment to the role of Chair of the Omagh Inquiry follows a recommendation made by the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales, in conjunction with his counterparts across the rest of the UK.

Confirming the announcement via a written ministerial statement to Parliament, Mr Heaton-Harris said:

“Lord Turnbull’s long-standing judicial career and his previous experience of working on terrorism cases will provide the highest levels of knowledge and professionalism. I have no doubt that Lord Turnbull will bring to the Inquiry the required rigour, independence, and impartiality, and I am grateful to him for accepting this important job.”

Lord Turnbull said:

“I am honoured to be appointed to chair this important Inquiry. I am very conscious of the devastation brought to the lives of so many by the atrocity which took place in Omagh in August 1998. I understand the determination of those who lost family and loved ones, and of those who were themselves injured, or whose family members were injured, to learn whether the attack could have been prevented.
“As soon as is practicable I shall be seeking views from those affected about the Inquiry. Once the Inquiry’s terms of reference are finalised I shall conduct an independent and robust Inquiry in order to establish the truth.”

As required by the Inquiries Act 2005, the Secretary of State will now undertake a consultation exercise with the Chair on the proposed Terms of Reference for the Inquiry. These will be agreed and published in due course.

Note to Editors:

Lord Turnbull was appointed as a judge of the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary in Scotland in 2006. He was appointed to the Inner House of the Court of Session and Court of Appeal in 2016. Whilst in practice at the Scottish Bar he was instructed as one of the two Senior Counsel for the Crown in the Lockerbie Bombing case conducted at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands. For the five years preceding his appointment to the Bench he served as the Principal Crown Counsel for Scotland.

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