HC Deb 08 December 1992 vol 215 cc611-2W
Mrs. Angela Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to release military board of inquiry reports to next of kin.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

Service board of inquiry reports are internal documents relating to inquiries held in private. Their content is often technical and complex, and is likely to include specific description of the conduct of named service personnel in the incident under investigation including that of the deceased where the board of inquiry investigates a fatal accident.

In view of our obligations to the deceased and to their families, it would not be appropriate to make such documents widely available. We do, however, recognise the special position of next of kin and in future there will be a general presumption that, subject to the essential minimum of security requirements, such reports will be made available to them wherever possible, should they so request. This change of practice is in line with the Government's general policy towards greater openness. It also reflects our genuine concern to ensure that next of kin are treated in as sympathetic and helpful a manner as possible.

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