The Panel

The Gosport Independent Panel was set up by the Minister of State for Care and Support, Department of Health (Norman Lamb) under the chairmanship of Bishop James Jones. Panel members have the skills and expertise in their respective fields required for the Panel’s work.

Additional Panel members may be appointed at a later date.

The Chair


Bishop James Jones KBE

James Jones was Bishop of Liverpool for 15 years until August 2013 and was deeply involved in the regeneration of the city. Bishop James Jones has chaired the New Deal Programme, the Regional Convention and two City Academies bringing together Catholics and Anglicans to provide transformative education for young people.

He chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel which reported in September 2012, providing direction and leadership to the Panel. Supported by other panel members, he also represented the Panel to the Hillsborough families and the wider public.

A regular writer and broadcaster, the Bishop champions the need for local communities to shape their own future. He is known in the region for his pastoral work and reconciling different communities. He was the Bishop for Prisons with a strong interest in criminal justice. The Bishop served in the House of Lords and engaged in a number of issues including the environment. He also chaired the Independent Panel on the Future of Forestry. He is currently the Home Secretary’s adviser on Hillsborough and the Chair of the Waitrose Board on Corporate Social Responsibility.

Panel Members


Kate Blackwell QC

Kate is a barrister with extensive experience in regulatory and serious criminal cases. She was appointed as a Crown Recorder in 2009 and as Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2012. Kate has experience of the Independent Panel process acting as the QC for the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel Inquiry. She was a member of the Prosecution Team in the Harold Shipman case and was later instructed in The Shipman Inquiry. Kate lectures in the UK and internationally on all aspects of serious crime, fraud, bribery, corruption and associated offences.

Christine Gifford

Christine Gifford is a recognised expert in the field of access to information, and has been a member of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives, which advises the government on the disclosure of highly sensitive material. Christine spent more than 20 years working with the Metropolitan Police. In 1997, she joined The Open Government Working Group and later became an adviser to the Lord Chancellor on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. She was a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel where she led on access to and disclosure of information.

David Hencke

David Hencke is an independent investigative journalist and writer with extensive experience working for local, specialist and national newspapers. He has won British Journalism awards. David was a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Duncan Jarrett OBE

Duncan Jarrett OBE is a former Scotland Yard Commander with over 35 years’ investigative experience. Duncan is the Vice Chair of Mediation in Hertfordshire. He is an experienced mediator, currently working to deliver independent and impartial mediation to local people experiencing conflict.  He was awarded an OBE in 2003 for services to prevent terrorism.

Dr Bill Kirkup CBE

Dr Bill Kirkup CBE was a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and chaired the independent investigation into maternal and neonatal deaths at Morecambe Bay Hospital. He retired from the Department of Health in 2010, having held public health roles as the Northern and Yorkshire Regional Director of Public Health and Associate Chief Medical Officer. Bill has also worked on public health and reconstruction in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Professor Jim Smith

Professor Jim Smith is a pharmacist with over 30 years’ experience in the development and implementation of pharmacy, prescribing and medicines strategies. He was the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England during 2001-2005 and has also held senior posts in NHS regional health authorities and as Professor of Pharmacy and Head of department in the University of Sunderland between 2005 and 2010. Jim is a member of the Fitness to Practise Committee at the General Pharmaceutical Council. He worked as a consultant for the World Health Organisation on pharmaceutical development in Central and Eastern Europe and is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health.

Professor Deborah Sturdy OBE

Deborah Sturdy has extensive senior nursing skills and expertise in caring and directing care for older people. She worked on acute assessment for older people from 1988-1989 at North Bristol NHS Trust. Between 1998-2000, she was the Development Manager at Swindon Primary Care Group. Deborah was awarded the British Geriatric Association President’s medal award in 2011 and holds an honouree lecturer post at the City University, London. Deborah was the Department of Health Nurse Advisor for Older People from 2001-2011. She developed the first national network for Consultant Nurses and the first leadership programme for Nurses working with older People. She is a Trustee of a number of national health charities including the International Longevity Centre.

Dr John Pounsford

Dr John Pounsford is a specialist in Care of the Elderly and has extensive experience in respiratory medicine. He is currently a Consultant Physician with responsibilities for care of the elderly and general medicine at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. He has substantial experience working with primary care and represented secondary care in Bristol on a Primary Care Trust Executive Committee. He has advised on respiratory medicine at the British Geriatrics and British Thoracic Societies and was the England representative for the British Geriatrics Society Clinical Practice Evaluation Group. He has over 30 years’ experience in teaching and is an examiner in Medicine at the University of Bristol and in Geriatrics at the Royal College of Physicians.