Skip to main content

Frequently asked questions

These FAQs answer common questions that people and organisations might have regarding the Inquiry.

What is the Cranston Inquiry?

The Cranston Inquiry is an independent non-statutory inquiry into the event on 24 November 2021 when at least 27 people lost their lives while attempting to cross the Channel from France to the UK. The Secretary of State for Transport announced that there would be a non-statutory inquiry into this event on 9 November 2023 following publication of the accident report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).

The Cranston Inquiry will look into who the deceased were, and when, where and in what circumstances they came by their deaths.

It will also consider what lessons can be learned and, if appropriate, make recommendations to reduce the risk of a similar event occurring.

Who is the Chair?

Sir Ross Cranston was appointed to Chair the Inquiry on 11 January 2024. Sir Ross is responsible for discharging the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and supervising its progress. He cannot make any findings of civil or criminal liability. The Inquiry’s findings and recommendations will be set out in a report that will be delivered to the Secretary of State for Transport.

What is the purpose of an inquiry?

An inquiry is set up to look at a matter of public concern and is fully independent of Government. Unlike proceedings in court, an inquiry is not adversarial. It is an inquisitorial process. The ambit of an inquiry is set out in its Terms of Reference. Though inquiries cannot determine criminal or civil liability, they can highlight where failings have occurred.

How do non-statutory inquiries work?

  • Inquiries, whether statutory or non-statutory, are always established by a Government minister but, once established, are independent of Government. Inquiries must be fearless in looking for the truth and make findings of fact. If appropriate these will include identifying those at fault; however, the law does not allow an inquiry to make findings of criminal or civil liability.
  • Inquiries always have a Chair, often a judge or former judge, appointed by the minister.
  • Non-statutory inquiries are not bound by the rules in the Inquiries Act 2005 and Inquiries Rules 2006 and, therefore, have more flexibility in the procedures they adopt. In practice they often use or adapt the procedures for statutory inquiries where it makes sense to do so.
  • Non-statutory inquiries, however, do not have the power to compel individuals or organisations to submit relevant documents or to call them as witnesses to give evidence.
  • Recent examples of other non-statutory inquiries include the Andrew Malkinson Inquiry, the Fuller Inquiry and the Angiolini Inquiry.

What is the format of the Cranston Inquiry?

Like other inquiries, the Cranston Inquiry, is inquisitorial in nature; its procedure and conduct are matters for the Chair to decide. The Inquiry is charged with carrying out an investigation within its Terms of Reference.

When did the Inquiry start?

The Cranston Inquiry was formally established by the Secretary of State for Transport on 11 January 2024.

What are the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference?

How will the Inquiry keep the public updated?

The Inquiry will publish updates on its work, including future hearing dates, protocols, relevant documents and ultimately the Chair’s report, to this website.

When and where are hearings being held?

An opening hearing will take place on 6 March 2024. Public hearings will be held later in 2024. Details of times, dates and venues for hearings will be available on the Inquiry’s hearing page.

What is a Full Participant?

This is a term being used by the Cranston Inquiry to identify people, institutions or organisations that have a specific interest in the work of the Inquiry, as defined by its Terms of Reference. Full Participants are entitled to receive documentation, be represented and make legal submissions to the Inquiry, may suggest questions and will receive advance notice of the Inquiry’s report. You do not need to be a Full Participant to provide evidence to the Inquiry.

Who are witnesses?

A witness is someone who has evidence relating to the matters being investigated by the Inquiry. This could be as a witness to the event or through the records they hold (e.g. documents or data). Every witness will be asked to provide the Inquiry with a written statement, and some will also give oral evidence at hearings.

What will happen if someone refuses to provide evidence?

Most Full Participants are Government departments or agencies and it is expected that they will cooperate fully with the Inquiry.

Will the Inquiry restrict the publication/reporting of certain details?

The Inquiry will be conducted in as open and transparent a manner as possible.

Documents provided to the Inquiry by individuals or organisations should not, however, be redacted before they are provided to the Inquiry

Should an individual or organisation wish to protect information that they consider is sensitive and should not be disclosed to the Inquiry and/or made public, they can apply to the Chair for that information to be protected.

Will there be an inquiry report?

Yes. Further details about the Inquiry’s report will be updated on the website in due course.

Does the Cranston Inquiry have a Freedom of Information policy?

The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act but will endeavour to conduct proceedings as openly and transparently as possible. As part of this, as much information as possible will be provided on this website.

Is there support available for affected persons?

The Inquiry is working to ensure the availability of emotional support for those involved in the Inquiry. Further information about the Inquiry’s support offer for witnesses and Full Participants will be provided as soon as possible.