Date lodged: 21 March 2018
To ask the Scottish Government how the Lord Advocate determines what is “expedient in the public interest” when deciding whether a non-mandatory fatal accident inquiry should take place.
Answered by: James Wolffe QC 17 April 2018
Assessing whether it is in the public interest to hold a discretionary fatal accident inquiry in relation to a death will depend very much on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding the death. In terms of section 4 of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016 (the 2016 Act) consideration of the public interest arises only if the death was sudden, suspicious or unexplained, or occurred in circumstances giving rise to serious public concern.
Among the considerations which will be taken into account, the Lord Advocate will have regard to the findings which a Sheriff may make under section 26 of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016 and what an inquiry could achieve. The views of the deceased's family will be taken into account before a decision is made.
The factors which will require to be taken into account, and the weight to be given to each factor, will vary depending on the circumstances of each death.