Abuse in immigration detention: inquiry launches

Brook House Inquiry

The BBC Panorama documentary Under-cover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets in 2017 uncovered horrific abuse at Brook House detention centre. Footage filmed in secret and undercover revealed both physical and racist abuse of people held.

Finally, in 2020, an official inquiry has been launched. 

AVID members support people up and down the country inside immigration detention centres and volunteers are often a first point of contact for people who are struggling inside. Many volunteers have heard first hand from those who suffered abuse in Brook House and in other centres across the UK. AVID welcomes this inquiry, as an opportunity to find out the truth about what happened in Brook and to make sure this never happens again. 

The inquiry will be chaired by Kate Eves and was formally launched on 21st April. Opening the inquiry, she committed to getting to the bottom of what happened at Brook House and encouraged people to come forward.  You can read her opening speech here

The inquiry will investigate mistreatment at Brook House between April and August 2017.  It will examine the systemic issues that led to a situation where this abuse could take place. 

AVID will continue to update on the progress of the Inquiry. The latest updates are below. 

 The latest from the Inquiry: last week for ‘Core Participant status’ applications 

With less than one week to go to apply for core participant status in the Independent Inquiry into Brook House, Chair Kate Eves is reminding any individuals or organisations with a specific interest in the Inquiry to come forward ahead of the closing date on Tuesday 19th May 2020. 


The Brook House Public Inquiry was set up to investigate the mistreatment of detainees at Brook House from April to August 2017 as depicted by the BBC’s Panorama programme, Under-Cover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets aired on 4 September 2017.


A core participant is an individual, organisation or institution that has a specific interest in the work of the Inquiry and is given a formal role. Core participants may participate in the Inquiry in a number of ways including receiving advance disclosure of relevant evidence and suggesting lines of questioning to be pursued by Counsel to the Inquiry.


Anyone who wishes to apply for Core Participant status is being asked to complete a Core Participant questionnaire and return it by email to solicitors@brookhouseinquiry.org.uk


More information and support can also be found at https://brookhouseinquiry.org.uk/

Beyond potential core participants, the Inquiry is also appealing for anyone who was involved in Brook House or who is aware of what happened, during the Relevant Period to come forward and share what they know, including any individuals or organisations with insights into the system at Brook House at that time, who may have supported or worked with detainees or employees. The Inquiry also has the power to compel relevant witnesses to give evidence. 


Kate Eves said:


“Now is the time to come forward – we’re asking anyone who thinks they should have a formal role in the Inquiry to tell us. We’re also asking any potential witnesses to come forward and share what they know. We’re committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in Brook House and we want to encourage people to come forward. With the help of core participants and witnesses we will build a clear picture of what happened to help ensure that  future mistreatment can be prevented”.


Anyone wishing to apply should complete a core participant questionnaire and return it by email to solicitors@brookhouseinquiry.org.uk


Anyone who has information that might be of interest to the Inquiry, is being asked to get in touch either via the free information line: 0800 181 4363 or by email enquires@brookhouseinquiry.org.uk More information and support concerning the Inquiry is available in 17 different languages on the website: https://brookhouseinquiry.org.uk/. Support is also available to translate witness statements and arrange translators for hearings. 

Call for Core Participants: Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a core participant?

A core participant is a person who has played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in the subject the Inquiry relates to, which can be found in the Inquiry terms of reference. They can also be a person or group that has a significant interest in the Inquiry or may be subject to significant or explicit criticism as a result of the Inquiry. Core participants are designated by the Chair, with their consent, and can be an individual or an organisation.


What does it mean to have core participant status?

Those designated as core participants may participate in the Inquiry in a number of ways:

  • Receiving in advance of hearings disclosure of evidence which the Chair considers relevant to that core participant;
  • Making an opening and closing statement at certain hearings;
  • Suggesting lines of questioning to be pursued by Counsel to the Inquiry;


How do I apply for core participant status?

If you wish to apply for core participant status please complete the Core Participant questionnaire and return it by email to solicitors@brookhouseinquiry.org.uk

The Inquiry will write to applicants or their legal representative confirming if they have been designated as a core participant. The Inquiry will liaise with core participants through recognised legal representatives, or direct where core participants are representing themselves, with details of how they can participate. More information about how to apply to be designated a core participant is set out in the Inquiry’s Core Participant Protocol.


What happens when an individual or organisation is not designated as a core participant – are they still able to participate in the Inquiry?

Anyone can submit evidence to the Inquiry. You do not have to be designated core participant status to contribute to, or participate in the Inquiry as a witness or attend hearings as a member of the public.


Do core participants need to be legally represented?

Anyone designated as a core participant is entitled to appoint a legal representative if they wish. However, the designation of core participant status does not automatically confer funding. Core Participants who wish to apply for funding for a recognised legal representative should read the guidance in the Costs Protocol.


What happens if I miss the core participant application deadline?

The Chair has a discretion to make a designation ‘at any time during the course of the inquiry’ under rule 5(1) of the Rules.  If you are outside the deadline for making a core participant application, you may complete the Core Participant questionnaire and return it by email to solicitors@brookhouseinquiry.org.uk. More information about how to apply to be designated a core participant is set out in the Inquiry’s Core Participant Protocol. If there has been any delay in making an application, this should be fully explained and reasons given.


Publication date: 
Thursday, May 14, 2020