Skip to content

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Why was the Inquiry set up?

The National Assembly for Wales set up the Inquiry to undertake a thorough investigation of the Outbreak of E.coli O157 in South Wales in September 2005, to find out what happened, and to make recommendations to prevent it from happening again.

What is a public inquiry?

The purpose of a public inquiry is to get to the bottom of the matter(s) in question. It is a means of seeking out the facts in a way that would not be possible in adversarial proceedings such as a lawsuit in which one party wins and another loses. It cannot determine civil or criminal liability. More information about the Inquiry’s role is available here .

How did the Inquiry undertake its work?

At its Preliminary Hearing, which was held on 27th of June 2006, Inquiry Chairman, Professor Hugh Pennington, explained how he would conduct the Inquiry. A full transcript of his statement is available here (MS Word 71.9Kb) On the day of the hearing, the Inquiry published a document setting out its procedures. Information on the Inquiry’s procedures can be found here (MS Word 84Kb). The Inquiry report also explains its approach.

What were the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference?

Its terms of reference were: ‘To inquire into the circumstances that led to the Outbreak of E.coli O157 infection in South Wales in September 2005, and into the handling of the Outbreak, and to consider the implications for the future and make recommendations accordingly’.

Who led the Inquiry?

The Chairman of the Inquiry was Professor Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist with an international reputation. Professor Pennington led the review into the Outbreak of E.coli O157 in Scotland in 1996.

Who else was involved in the Inquiry?

The Inquiry obtained evidence from a wide range of individuals and organisations. Some individuals or organisations were designated as a core participant in the Inquiry. As the title suggests, they were considered by the Chairman to be those closest to the issues considered by the Inquiry.

Who were the Core Participants in this Inquiry?

The Inquiry Chairman, Professor Hugh Pennington, designated the following as core participants:

  • Bridgend County Borough Council
  • Bridgend Local Health Board
  • Caerphilly County Borough Council
  • Caerphilly Local Health Board
  • Individuals and families affected by the Outbreak
  • The Food Standards Agency (includes The Meat Hygiene Service)
  • Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
  • Merthyr Tydfil Local Health Board
  • The National Public Health Service for Wales
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Health Board
  • Vale of Glamorgan Local Health Board
  • The Welsh Assembly Government

More information about a Core Participant can be found here .

What are oral hearings?

The purpose of oral hearings is to assist the Inquiry in areas where facts are not clear or where there is controversy. They may help to clarify or expand on certain matters, or provide an opportunity to test the accuracy or reliability of evidence.

The fact that certain evidence is not dealt with at the hearings does not mean that it is regarded as irrelevant or that it is being afforded less weight by the Inquiry. The Inquiry considers all evidence it receives.

The Inquiry held its Preliminary Hearing on 27 June 2006. It took a significant amount of evidence through its programme of public hearings, which started on 12 February 2008 and ended on 19 March 2008. Participants in the Inquiry made closing statements at another hearing on 14 May 2008. Copies of the closing submissions can be accessed here (pdf 35KB) . Full transcripts of all the Inquiry's proceedings can be accessed here.

More information about oral hearings can be found here.

Was the Inquiry independent?

Yes, the Inquiry was set up under the Inquiries Act 2005, which meant that it was independent of the National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Assembly Government and any other organisation or body.