PRESS STATEMENT ON THE CONTAMINATED BLOOD INQUIRY, 3.11.17:
Diana Johnson MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood, said:
“I welcome the Government’s confirmation that the Department of Health will not be the sponsoring body for the contaminated blood inquiry; and that it will be a statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act. This shows that the Prime Minister has listened to the overwhelming and unanimous opposition to this inquiry being led by a Department so implicated in this disaster.
I would particularly like to thank the Rt. Rev. James Jones KBE the former Bishop of Liverpool for his very helpful intervention with the Government on behalf of those affected.
However, as set out in an APPG statement to the PM on 3rd October, four further commitments must urgently be made to ensure that the inquiry truly achieves justice for those affected:
Firstly, we need clarity that the Department’s involvement will be strictly limited to providing evidence as an implicated party. They cannot be involved in the funding of the inquiry in any way, nor have any say over appointing the Chair, Panel or setting the Terms of Reference. Nor can they oversee any response to the consultation on the inquiry.
Secondly, this statutory inquiry must use its full powers to compel witnesses and hear evidence under oath. It must not be inhibited in its functions by the possibility of criminal liability being inferred. It must be led by a wider Panel of experts, alongside a Chair.
Thirdly, the inquiry Terms of Reference must cover the aftermath of the tragedy as well as the run-up to infection. This includes the allegations of a criminal cover-up on an industrial scale.
Finally, this inquiry must follow the “families first” approach of Hillsborough and other investigations. Those affected need to be consulted on the Chair, Panel and Terms of Reference. They need an inquiry that works with them through a process of truth and reconciliation.
Provided these commitments are made, we are confident that an inquiry Chair can be appointed by the end of this month; and that the thousands of people affected may finally achieve justice for this appalling tragedy.”
On 3rd October 2017, the APPG on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood made a detailed statement to the Prime Minister setting out our demands for a contaminated blood inquiry. A copy of this statement is available on request. Some 46 MPs and counting have signed an Early Day Motion endorsing this statement: parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/408.
The Cabinet office has released a written ministerial statement providing further details about this commitment. See here:
Text of letter received from Rt Hon Damian Green MP, First Secretary of State is here:
On 11 July 2017, the Prime Minister announced that a full, independent public inquiry would be held into the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s, and promised to work with the victims and families of those affected by this tragedy in order to decide what form the inquiry should take. Since then, we have been listening to views from the affected community and have received over 800 written responses to the consultation, which closed on 18 October.
I am keen for the inquiry to proceed as quickly as possible in order to provide those affected with the answers they deserve. Taking into account the views of those who responded to the consultation, I am announcing today that responsibility for setting up the independent inquiry will transfer from the Department of Health to the Cabinet Office with immediate effect. I am also announcing that this will be a full statutory public inquiry, created under the 2005 Inquiries Act.
The Cabinet Office has now taken receipt of all the response to the consultation, which it will analyse thoroughly. This work will be completed as quickly as possible, and a further announcement will follow before the end of the year on the setting up of the inquiry.