How will the Review Gather Evidence?
This Independent Review will use many different methods to gather information, including conducting interviews, obtaining reports, and holding public drop-in meetings.
It is that flexibility which should make it possible to investigate the wide range of topics in the terms of reference by December 2023.
Evidence will be gathered from a broad range of people including civil and public servants, previous civil and public servants, those who advised the Government, decision-makers, members of the Council of Ministers (both the former and current administrations), Tynwald members, self-employed people, company directors, business leads, clinicians, teachers, parents, charities and the wider public.
The Chair will select research methods which are best-suited to each topic area and most likely to generate full, frank and reliable evidence.
Those methods will include:
- Focus groups
- Semi-structured conversations
- Formal interviews
- Obtaining written submissions
- Examining documentation from government, Tynwald, committees
- Examining documentation from non-government sources
- Analysing data
- Commissioning research on specific points
- Desk-based research
How will the Public be Involved?
The Review wishes to hear from as wide a section of the Isle of Man population as possible.
Please go to the ‘Make a Submission’ page where you will find further detail about how to make submissions and a link to our secure portal.
Although the Review will largely not be carried out in public, Kate Brunner KC, the Chair of the Review, considers it very important that there is transparency and public involvement. Every member of the public who would like to give the Review information within the scope of the Review will be listened to. The Review will:
- Keep the public informed about the progress of the Review through updates on the website.
- Publish evidence to support the Review’s conclusions.
- Invite members of the public to join focus groups, which will address various different aspects of the Review.
- Hold Public Drop-in meetings where members of the public can give information on any relevant topic to the Review Team.
- Invite written submissions from individuals, groups and institutions.
- Listen to the experience of those particularly affected by the pandemic, including the bereaved.
Any member of the press or public who has a query about the Review is welcome to contact the Review Team at any time. Please see our contact page.
How long will the Review last?
The report is due by 31 December 2023.
How much will the Review cost?
It is difficult to estimate the cost of such a broad project in advance, but the Chair’s overview budget currently predicts that the cost will be in the region of £1.5 million. That includes payment for the five members of the Review Team, researchers, legal fees, accommodation costs where space needs to be rented, travel expenses, technology costs, and so on.
There is government oversight of spending via the Sponsors. The Chair will continue to be mindful of the cost to the public purse when making decisions about the conduct of the Review.
What period will the Review look at?
The Review will consider the period December 2019 to 1 April 2022.
What issues will the Review consider?
The scope of the Independent Review is set by its Terms of Reference.
To fulfil the Terms of Reference, the Review has been split into the following topic areas:
- Emergency Planning
- Emergency Powers
- Financial Support
- Hospitals and Health
- Procurement and Supply
- Restrictions, including Lockdowns
- Social Care
- Social issues including Housing and Justice
- Vaccination programme
Will the Review have full access to Government material?
The Review has been given wide access to Government documentation. The Terms of Reference document includes an undertaking that the Review “will also be afforded full access to all records held by, and personnel employed by, the Isle of Man Government and all its agencies”. The Government is making arrangements to give the Review that full access.
Tynwald has taken a similarly open approach. Some records held by Tynwald committees are ‘privileged’; that means that they are generally not made public.
However, in November 2021 Tynwald waived privilege in relation to any evidence relating to the pandemic held by the Public Accounts Committee and Tynwald Policy Review Committees.
At the Chair’s request, Tynwald extended that in November 2022, so that the Review Team has access to all unpublished records held by all scrutiny committees, and relevant information circulated to Tynwald members before sittings of Tynwald.
What is the Timeframe for the Review?
The Review will be concluded in as short a time as possible. The Review has been split into two Stages.
Stage One involves examination of documentation from Government Departments and Statutory Boards, and interviews with members of Government.
Stage Two involves consultation with the public and non-Government bodies, as well as those who are no longer working for Government. The Chair will use a range of evidence-gathering methods in order to allow the Review Team to examine a wide range of topics within as short a time as possible.
|September to December, 2022||Setting-up the Review
|From December 2022||Stage One:
Evidence-gathering from Government and Statutory Boards
|From March 2023||Stage Two:
Evidence-gathering from public, non-government bodies, and previous ministers and civil servants
|From September 2023||Evaluation
|From October 2023||Drafting of the Report|
|From November 2023||Refining Recommendations|
|31 December 2023||Publication of the Report|
Is the Review really independent?
This Review is entirely independent of the Government, and any other institution.
This is written into the Terms of Reference, and also into the agreement between Government and the Chair of the Review. Nobody in Government or the wider political framework can dictate the process of the Review, or the conclusions of the Review.
In the set-up phase of the Review, the team has necessarily had various interactions with civil servants, public servants and ministers, such as discussing the document management platform where thousands of documents will be stored; discussing data-sharing agreements; setting-up processes to obtain information from Tynwald etc. The Review Team has sometimes used a room in government offices, in order to avoid the expense of permanently renting separate office space. Throughout all of this, the Review Team retains its independence, which has been entirely respected by those in Government and Tynwald.
Who are the “Sponsors” and what do they do?
Throughout the Review, the formal channel of communication between the Review and Government is through identified ‘sponsors’. This is a standard procedure in a review such as this which is set up by Government. Having sponsors is part of the way in which independence is maintained while ensuring that the Government has appropriate administrative oversight of the progress and cost of the Review.
The Sponsors are Hon Jane Poole-Wilson MHK (Minister for Home Affairs) and Interim Chief Secretary Caldric Randall. Both have recognised and welcomed the independent nature of the Review.
It is agreed between the Chair and Sponsors that the Sponsors’ role is:
- To keep oversight of the progress of the Independent Review, which will be achieved through progress reports from the Chair
- To keep oversight of the cost of the Independent Review
- To act as the point of contact between the Review and both Government and Tynwald
- To take action where necessary to assist the Independent Review to fulfil the Terms of Reference
In communication between the Chair and the Sponsors, it is acknowledged that both Sponsors are likely to also be witnesses. In the context of a small administration that is not unexpected. Both Sponsors and the Chair of the Review are alive to the potential conflict that this may create and will ensure that matters relating to evidence are kept separate to matters relating to the Sponsor role.
Sponsors have an administrative role only. While the Review progresses, information provided by witnesses to the Review is not shared with the Sponsors, nor with Government or Tynwald. The Review operates at arms-length from all other institutions.
Will the Review criticise people?
The focus of the Review is on lessons to be learned, not on apportioning blame.
It will be a thorough and robust investigation, and will not hesitate to criticise actions and decisions when that is warranted. However, it is recognised at the outset that there were many people throughout Government and public service who worked extremely hard and under great pressure, in an unprecedented situation.
The Review will focus on the processes and procedures which were in place so that clear and practical recommendations can be made for improvement.
Will evidence be made Public?
Where evidence is not already in the public domain, the Chair of the Review will make a decision about which evidence should be made public at the end of the Review.
The Chair will publish a selection of documents, transcripts and summaries of meetings taking into account considerations of confidentiality, relevance, cost and practicality.
Where will I find the Report when it is ready?
The Chair’s Report will be published on this website.