Public access to the hearings


Introduction

Since launching the Inquiry Sir John Chilcot has made clear the Inquiry's commitment to conduct as much of its business in public as possible. This document provides information for people wishing to attend the Inquiry's public hearings which began on 24 November at the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Conference Centre in London.

The venue

There are two areas at the QEII where members of the public will be able to view the Inquiry proceedings. The first is the hearing room itself located within the main Inquiry suite area. The second is in an additional viewing facility located separately within the QEII. The way that both these facilities can be accessed is set out below.

Location

The QEII Centre is located at Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3EE Details of the location and suggested travel options for the QEII can be found via the centre’s website.

How to attend

Timetable

The Inquiry will be publishing the weekly schedule of hearings on its website. The standard timings for each session will be:

  • AM sessions 10:00 - 13:00
  • PM sessions 14:00 - 17:00

The exception to these timings is Monday morning, Thursday (all day) and Friday afternoon when there will not be any hearings.

The Inquiry does not guarantee that every session will run for a full duration. Please note that the Inquiry is not scheduled to sit every day once it commences. Members of the public are encouraged to check the website to ensure that they do not travel unnecessarily to the QEII when there are no scheduled hearings.

Access to the venue

The Inquiry would like to ensure that as many people as possible wishing to attend the public hearings have the opportunity to do so. However a number of measures are in place to support the effective conduct of the Inquiry’s work and these are set out below.

Access and Safety

On arrival at the QEII you will be directed to the Inquiry registration desk where passes can be obtained from Inquiry staff. The registration desk will open one hour (60 minutes) before the start of a session, i.e. the registration desk will be open at 09:00 for a 10:00 session start.

Those attending will be required to provide a recognised form of photographic identification (either a drivers licence or passport). Members of the public will be asked to sign for their pass and will be required to return it upon departure from the Inquiry suite or additional viewing facility. This is so that, in the event the building needs to be evacuated, the emergency services and building management can verify that the facility has been emptied.

Passes for individual sessions

You will be issued with a pass either for the hearing room, or if this has reached capacity, the additional viewing facility located within the QEII. An Inquiry pass is only valid for a morning or afternoon session and is not transferable between sessions or individuals. At the end of a session the hearing room and additional viewing facility must be vacated by all members of the public and passes surrendered to an accredited member of the Inquiry’s staff.

If you wish to attend an additional session that same day you will be required to reregister at the Inquiry's registration desk, located on the ground floor of the QEII, when this opens for the next session. This may mean having to join a queue of people who also wish to attend that session. This is in order to enable the maximum possible number of people each day to see the hearings.

As capacity in both the hearing room and additional facility is limited the Inquiry cannot guarantee access to any individual member of the public for a particular hearing session. Please note it is not possible to reserve a pass in advance for any hearing session.

For morning (AM) sessions doors to the Inquiry suite will be open 60 minutes before the beginning of the session.

For afternoon (PM) sessions doors to the Inquiry suite will be opened 45 minutes before the beginning of the session.

Security

The Inquiry's proceedings will be conducted in a suite of rooms within the QEII. To gain entry to the Inquiry suite members of the public will be required to undertake airport style security checks.

The Iraq Inquiry reserves the right to refuse admission to the Inquiry suite or additional viewing facility at any point.

Access for people with disabilities

The Inquiry suite is fully accessible for those with disabilities and the hearing room is fitted with an induction loop. The QEII Centre is a fully accessible facility and further details about how it caters for additional disability related needs, including access to disabled parking, can be found on the centre's website.

Cloakroom facilities

Cloakroom facilites are available on the ground floor of the QEII. These are open between 08:00 and 18:00.

Further details on the facilities available at the QEII and in the local area can also be found on the QEII's website.

The Hearing Room

Access to the hearing room will be on a first come, first served basis. There are around 60 seats available in the public gallery. Once these seats are full other members of the public will be directed to an additional viewing facility located within the QEII (see below).

All those wishing to be in the hearing room are required to be seated 10 minutes before the scheduled start of that session. Access will not permitted after this time so the Inquiry kindly requests that you take account of this and the need to go through Security in your travel plans.

Standards of behaviour

Once in the Inquiry suite members of the public are required to observe standards of behaviour similar to those observed in the public gallery or Select Committee rooms of the Houses of Parliament. The following rules must be complied with at all times:

Noise There must be silence in the public gallery of the hearing room while the Inquiry is in session.

Entry & exit You will be expected to remain in the hearing room during the proceedings, except in an emergency. Should you need to leave the Inquiry suite during a session you will be required to surrender your pass to an accredited member of the Inquiry staff. This will be returned to you should you return to the Inquiry suite during that same session upon proof of identification. You will also need to pass through security screening again. Access will not normally be permitted after doors to the hearing have been closed.

Food & drink Members of the public are not permitted to bring items of food or drink into the hearing room. They will be asked to finish or dispose of such items upon entry into the Inquiry suite.

Electronic devices Members of the public are prohibited from bringing electronic devices such as laptops, cameras, mobile telephones, personal data applications, MP3 players or any recording device into the hearing room. Such equipment must either be left at the cloakroom or surrendered to security staff who will provide a receipt and return it to you when you depart. The Inquiry accepts no liability for items left with Inquiry accredited staff and members of the public attending the hearings do this at their own risk. We ask that you take this into consideration when attending the hearings.

Personal defence equipment is not permitted in the Inquiry suite. UK law prohibits the carrying of certain selfdefence items lawful in other countries. Persons in possession of such items, e.g. flick knives, butterfly knives, and personal defence sprays, are liable to confiscation of these items and possible arrest. You are advised not to bring bladed items of any kind into the conference centre.

Bags or luggage larger than a briefcase or handbag may be refused entry to the hearing room.

Disruption Any individual who disrupts the proceedings of the Inquiry within the Inquiry suite, including the hearing room, will be deemed to have forfeited their right to attendance and may be removed from the premises. Types of behaviour which will not be tolerated include the interruption of Committee members or witnesses, the display of banners of any size or the throwing of objects.

Anyone who does not comply with any of these requirements may be refused entry to the Inquiry suite or asked to leave the hearing room at any point in the proceedings.

Additional viewing facility

Once capacity is reached in the public gallery of the hearing room members of the public wishing to view the Inquiry's proceedings will have the opportunity to watch them in an additional viewing facility located in the QEII Centre. Here around 50 members of the public will be able to watch a televised closed circuit feed from the hearing room.

Anyone wishing to view the proceedings from the additional viewing facility, even if there is still capacity available in the hearing room, may choose to do so if there is space available.

Standards of behaviour

Once in the additional viewing facility members of the public are required to observe similar standards of conduct and behaviour as set out for the hearing room and Inquiry suite.

Noise should be kept to a minimum so as not to disrupt other viewers.

Mobile telephones should be turned off or set to silent so as not to disrupt other viewers

Bags or luggage larger than a briefcase, or handbag may be refused entry to the additional viewing facility. You will be asked to place any larger items in the cloakroom facilities available.

Disruption Any individual who disrupts the viewing of others within the additional viewing facility will be deemed to have forfeited their right to attendance and may be removed from the premises.

Media

Members of the media wishing to obtain accreditation to the public hearings should contact the Inquiry Press Officers through the Inquiry website.

Unable to attend the Public Hearings?

The Inquiry's proceedings will be streamed on the internet via the Inquiry's website. Archive footage of each hearing sessions will also be available via the Inquiry’s website.

There may be occasions where the Inquiry's proceedings are also shown on terrestrial television. The Inquiry has negotiated an agreement with the UK broadcasting pool to enable this to happen.

Transcripts from each session will also be published daily on the Inquiry's website.