Campaigners and representatives including the Haemophilia Society took part in a conference call last week to try to find a way forward to create an inquiry into contaminated blood and blood products that would have the confidence of the affected community. This followed the proposal by Government of talks between the Department of Health (DH) and campaigners which were rejected.
The Haemophilia Society had hoped that the APPG on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood, led by Diana Johnson MP and Sir Peter Bottomley MP, in conjunction with Bishop James Jones would be part of a process of hearing the affected community’s concerns. However, we understand that many campaigners feel this adds unnecessary delay and that the views of the community are already clear.
While we believe that a meeting proposed for September, chaired by Bishop James Jones, would be useful we accept that the views of campaigners should already be clear to the Prime Minister.
A spokesperson for the Haemophilia Society said, “There can be no progress on setting up an inquiry and deciding its remit until all parties agree that it must be an independent statutory inquiry and that the Department for Health will not be involved in deciding the remit.”
The Haemophilia Society does not believe a Hillsborough-style panel would be able to get to the truth of what occurred as it would not have the powers to compel witnesses and the submission of evidence. Any inquiry would need to be judge-led to allow the forensic consideration of evidence.
Contrary to some media reports, Bishop James Jones is not being considered to chair the inquiry and would not be a suitable candidate to do so.
The Haemophilia Society’s membership includes a large number of those affected by contaminated blood products and their families. We will therefore continue to seek a full statutory inquiry into what happened and how they have subsequently been treated. Following the Government’s welcome recent announcement of the intention to have an inquiry we are working hard to make progress on how this can take place and remain committed to finding a way for campaigners and others affected to be consulted.