Inquiry delay must not stop compensation

Written by Jessica Bomford, September 21, 2023

A statement from Clive Smith, Chair of the Haemophilia Society:

The Infected Blood Inquiry’s decision to delay publication of its final report until March 2024 is a huge disappointment but should not be used as an excuse by government to avoid making compensation payments.

Sir Brian Langstaff has announced that the ‘sheer volume and scale’ of his task, coupled with the ‘weight of criticisms’ against individuals and organisations and the lengthy way it must deal with them means that publication this Autumn is not realistic. You can read the inquiry’s announcement here.

Implement compensation scheme

While the final report is crucial in identifying wrongdoing in relation to the contaminated blood scandal, Sir Brian has already published his recommendations on compensation, and these must now be implemented without further delay.

The government has repeatedly said it will only respond to Sir Brian’s recommendations on compensation when his final report is published. This has always been an untenable position, which was fatally undermined last week when it offered compensation to wrongly convicted postmasters even though the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is on-going.

If the government has been working ‘at pace’ to be ready to respond to Sir Brian’s final report, as it claims, which was originally due within weeks, then we must assume its preparations are almost complete.

Sir Brian has already found that ‘wrongs were done at individual, collective and systemic levels’. At the inquiry’s July hearings, he told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that he had published his findings on compensation because it ‘troubled his conscience’ to be the cause of any further delay. He asked Mr Sunak to provide reassurance ‘preferably with actions rather than words’ that fair compensation would be delivered ‘as soon as possible’.

We thank Sir Brian and his team for their transparency in explaining why the delay was necessary and setting out a clear timetable for the publication of the report.

Government must act

The government needs to adopt the same transparency. We urge it to:

  • Implement the recommendations of Sir Brian’s report on compensation by the end of the year
  • Introduce a bespoke psychological support service in England as soon as possible
  • Support amendments to the upcoming Victims and Prisoners Bill on the way victims are treated under law to include specific reference to the contaminated blood scandal.

Support is available

Waiting for the final report continues to be a very stressful time for many in our community, and the new delay will cause a lot of understandable anxiety and uncertainty.

Our Public Inquiry Team are here for you at [email protected] or 0207 939 0780 or you can find information on psychological support here.

Be assured that we will continue to work hard on your behalf to ensure that compensation is paid as soon as possible, and Sir Brian’s second interim report is implemented in full.

Clive Smith

Chair of the Haemophilia Society