SIBF Response to Prime Minister’s statement on the Contaminated Blood Public Inquiry

Written Statement by Damian Green of the Cabinet Office on the Contaminated Blood Inquiry
3rd November 2017
APPG position on the Public Inquiry
4th November 2017
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SIBF Response to Prime Minister’s statement on the Contaminated Blood Public Inquiry

The trustees of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum welcome the Prime Minister’s statement issued today.

We are pleased that Mrs May has listened to the concerns of affected individuals, families and stakeholder groups and will hold a Statutory UK-wide Inquiry established by the Cabinet Office, and not by the Department of Health.

Any reasoned person would see that it is untenable for an implicated party to investigate itself; that is what the Department of Health’s previous intention was tantamount to. Diana Johnson MP, co-chair of the APPG on Haemophilia and Contaminated blood, said that would be akin to “asking South Yorkshire Police to lead an inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster”, and there was “overwhelming and unanimous opposition” to the department being involved in the inquiry”. We agree with that analysis.

This is a first step only. There are some key issues still unresolved, including:

  1. The UK Inquiry should be run by a Panel of experienced individuals, overseen by a chair who need not be a judge (or retired judge).
  2. The Chair person should carry the confidence of the contaminated blood victims, their living relatives and the wider affected community.
  3. The Chair should have sufficient moral standing, not necessarily legal expertise. Legal experise can be provided from within the Panel membership.
  4. The infected blood community should be consulted on the Chair and Panel appointees and on the Terms of Reference before these are appointed and finalised. That consultation should be sincere and meanigful, have substance and should not smack of tokenism.
  5. The inquiry should investigate the aftermath of the blood supply/blood products being contaminated, including allegations of cover-up and criminal activity. It is extremely disappointing, but sadly not at all surprising, that the the previous Department of Health involvement had tried to frame the investigation solely into the events leading-up to the contamination only.
  6. There should be separate Scottish legal representation and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum and others should be core participants to the Inqury.

We understand the First Secretary of State, Damian Green, will be making further parliamentary statements before the end of the year providing more detail on Inquiry proposals going forward. We will work with Scottish partners,  fellow UK stakeholders and the APPG to further advocate for an appropriate resolution to the outstanding issues.

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