The Haemophilia Society carries out secretariat duties for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood. Below we provide an update from them on the events and discussions surrounding the proposed Public Inquiry
“There have been a number of developments in recent weeks, since the Government’s announcement of a contaminated blood inquiry.
1. Planned Meeting with those affected by scandal and Bishop James Jones, Tuesday 12th September 12.30pm:
On Thursday 27th July, a number of campaign groups and individuals affected by the scandal, together with the APPG Co-Chairs Diana Johnson MP and Sir Peter Bottomley MP, held a conference call with the Rt. Rev. James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, to discuss the contaminated blood inquiry.
The Bishop chaired the Hillsborough independent panel, is currently chairing the Gosport independent panel and continues to advise the Home Secretary on Hillsborough. The conference call was arranged with an aim of using the Bishop’s expertise to see how we could move forward now the Government has committed to an inquiry into the scandal. It should be stressed that contrary to some claims made in the press, the prospect of him chairing an inquiry was not discussed.
Minutes from the call will be circulated tomorrow. All callers, including the Bishop, were unanimous in the view that the Department of Health should have no role in the contaminated blood inquiry process. The Bishop also disagreed with the Department’s decision to set a deadline of 18th August for people to respond to their consultation.
The Bishop has agreed to hold two further face-to-face meetings – the first with victims of the scandal; and the second with the Government to relay victims’ concerns. The first meeting will take place on Tuesday 12th September from 12.30pm. The Bishop has given his personal commitment to do all he can to support victims of the scandal, and he will use this meeting to discuss their views on the inquiry process. The venue will be in London, at a location which is still TBC – although it will not be in a Government building, and will likely take place in a conference room at a hotel.
Since the call, a number of campaign groups have said that they do not intend to attend the meeting with the Bishop. However this is not a unanimous view, and other campaign groups have stated that they will be attending. Diana Johnson MP and Sir Peter Bottomley MP, together with the Bishop, have decided to proceed with the meeting so that all those who wish to attend are able to share their views with the Bishop.
We would be grateful if APPG Members ensure their constituents are aware of this planned meeting. If they wish to attend, please approach either the Haemophilia Society or Diana Johnson’s office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm this. They do not need to be formally affiliated to any campaign groups, and nor do they need to be ‘public’ about how this scandal has affected them – their right to privacy will be respected.
If any of your constituents would like to stay updated on APPG activities in future, please also let them know they can contact us to be added to the mailing list to receive these emails. Their names and contact details will be kept in strictest confidence by the APPG and the Haemophilia Society, its secretariat.
2. Diana Johnson MP’s letter to the PM, announcing she will not be formally making submissions to the Department of Health’s consultation.
Since this conference call, the APPG Co-Chair Diana Johnson MP has written a further letter to the Prime Minister (posted to news section here), making clear that she will not be formally making submissions to the Department of Health’s consultation. Likewise, campaign groups have announced they too will be boycotting this consultation, and at least some legal representatives have provided the same advice to their clients.
She has also called on the Government to abandon the 18th August deadline, and reiterated the view that another Department should lead on this issue. The Prime Minister has since replied to her earlier letter to the PM (see attached).
3. Further developments.
There have been many further developments in recent weeks, and you can find some relevant documents attached. Members may wish to particularly note the House of Commons Library briefing on public inquiries, which Diana Johnson MP recently commissioned (posted here and here on the website). It contains a helpful point-by-point assessment of which aspects of a Hillsborough-style inquiry can be incorporated into a statutory inquiry, and which cannot.
4. Future meetings.
There will be two APPG meetings after recess in September. These are:
– Weds 6th September, 3pm, Room A 1 Parliament Street
– Weds 13th September, 4.30pm, Room A 1 Parliament Street
The meetings are open to MPs, any affected constituents, campaigners and their legal representatives. However for security reasons, we would ask that any non-members approach the APPG first just to register their attendance.”