The Government has just released a Written Ministerial Statement on the inquiry (see here). It confirms it will be led by a Judge as Chair but falls short of saying who the Chair will be. The Chair will be supported by a Panel but again no specifics as to numbers and make-up have been given at this time. An announcement on this is promoised ‘in the New Year’. This may be a reflection of other pressing business the PM had to attend to recently re the resignation of the Cabinet Secretary, Damian Green. His replacement remians to be disclosed.
The PM’s Written Ministerial Statement is shown below:
“As the Government announced last month, a full statutory inquiry into the infected blood scandal will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, and sponsored by the Cabinet Office. The inquiry will have full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.
We are today setting out the next steps.
The Cabinet Office has now completed its analysis of the responses to the consultation on the format of the statutory Inquiry into infected blood announced in July. In addition a series of roundtable meetings were held earlier this month with individuals and groups representing those affected.
The Government committed to making an announcement regarding the Chair of the inquiry before Christmas, taking into account the views we have received. We are therefore announcing today our intention to appoint a judge to Chair the inquiry. We will make a further statement on who that judge will be in the New Year and we will be discussing with them the composition of the Inquiry panel.
We would like to thank each and every person who took the time to respond to the consultation, and to share their views and experiences. We understand how difficult these issues must have been to describe and we are grateful for the frankness and honesty with which people have shared their experiences. The responses to the consultation have been carefully considered by Cabinet Office officials. We can assure the House and everyone who contributed that the findings will be passed to the proposed Chair to help inform the discussions regarding the draft Terms of Reference, on which we expect there will be further consultation.
In accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005, colleagues in the Devolved Administrations will be consulted as the Terms of Reference are finalised.
A further statement will be made in the New Year.”
Diana Johnson, the co-chair of the APPG on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood has released a press statement:
“I know the thousands of people affected by this scandal will be bitterly disappointed that an inquiry Chair has still yet to be appointed.
“Six months after announcing the inquiry, and following numerous problems with the consultation process, we are still waiting for this announcement.
“I urge Ministers to engage closely with those affected and appoint an appropriate Chair as soon as possible. As the APPG has consistently argued, the Chair must commit to an inquiry that puts first and foremost the families who have been affected by this disaster, in line with the requests made in our statement to the Prime Minister on 3rd October.”
We will keep you updated as and when we receive new information.