Progress Update from Sir Wyn Williams

Chair's update following Phase 4 closing statements on 2 February 2024

  1. Phases 1 to 4 of the Inquiry are now substantially complete. I use the word “substantially” quite deliberately; oral evidence from a small number of witnesses, including Mr Gareth Jenkins, is yet to be heard and there remains a possibility that the continuing disclosure of documents to the Inquiry will reveal issues related to phases 2, 3 and 4 which will require the Inquiry to make public additional documents or even adduce further oral evidence. 

  2. Now, however, it is time to look forward and for me to lay out how and when I propose to deal with the remaining phases of the Inquiry.

  3. For some time now I have been considering the possibility that phases 5 and 6 should be run together as one phase. Having consulted with my legal and secretariat teams I have decided that this is the way forward. Those phases are concerned with so many issues which overlap that to consider them separately would be artificial and probably excessively time consuming.

  4. There is however one topic within phase 5 which I do not consider can be appraised finally for some time yet. That is the topic of the three compensation schemes currently in being. I must reach conclusions about whether these schemes are operating and/or have operated fairly and whether they have fulfilled their stated aim of providing full and fair compensation promptly to all those who are eligible to receive it. I have decided that to do justice to this topic it will be heard as part of phase 7. This will allow me to look at as full a picture as possible relating to compensation issues before I report to the Minister.

  5. However, I am conscious that this topic attracts widespread attention for obvious and justified reasons. It is now virtually six months since I delivered an interim report relating to compensation issues to the Minister. I am alive to the possibility that it may be necessary to hold a further discrete compensation hearing before the beginning of phase 7. I will keep that under review during the course of the coming weeks.       

  6. Phases 5 and 6 will begin on Tuesday 9 April 2024 and I intend that they will end by Wednesday 31 July 2024. There will be a break of one week during the week of Monday 27 May 2024. Save during that break, the Inquiry will sit 4 days per week as has been its practice to date.  A witness timetable will be published on the Inquiry website in due course. 

  7. Following consultation with my teams, I considered whether it would be possible to start phases 5 and 6 earlier than 9 April 2024. I have concluded that this is not possible for the following principal reasons. First, it is my current intention to adduce oral evidence from at least 68 witnesses in these phases. A great deal of preparatory work is and will be necessary if that number of witnesses is to be accommodated between 9 April 2024 and 31 July 2024. A list of those 68 witnesses will be provided when this statement is published as it will be later today. Second, if phases 5 and 6 were to be heard separately there would need to be breaks before phase 5 began and then before the start of phase 6. Those breaks together with the periods necessary for oral hearings would probably mean that phases 5 and 6 would not be completed by 31 July 2024 thereby prolonging the life of this Inquiry. Accordingly, the break before the start of phases 5 and 6 will help to assist the process of completing the evidence gathering as quickly as is reasonably practicable. Third, a substantial break now will maximise the chance that Post Office, UKGI and any other document providers with whom the Inquiry has expressed concern will be able to comply with their disclosure obligations in a timely way. Fourth, I have now heard a great deal of evidence and I have heard a number of submissions on that evidence from representatives of Core Participants. I am satisfied that having the opportunity to take stock at this stage and, perhaps, formulate some preliminary views will minimise the time I will need to spend writing my report following the completion of evidence gathering.

  8. Assuming that phases 5 and 6 are complete by 31 July 2024, phase 7 will commence on Tuesday 3 September 2024. My current estimate is that this phase will be completed by the end of September 2024 but I make it clear that this is a provisional view.

  9. Finally, my report will follow as soon as is reasonably practicable following the completion of the evidence gathering.   


Wyn Sign


Sir Wyn Williams

2 February 2024