It is very important, now the UK Government has eventually relented and set a course for an Inquiry into the contaminated blood disaster, that we look carefully at how the issue of ‘missing records’ may be dealt with.
This is a huge area of importance in the community and with justice seekers. However it should also be an area of concern.
At the first hearing of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, the issue of missing records was paramount, but it was used as a limiter of the scope, or some would say the truth, of the events being investigated.
In his opening statement, John Scott QC representing some of the victims, said the inquiry would be weakened in its remit by “the loss or deliberate destruction of records, or, in some cases, the failure to keep proper records in the first place.”
In that Inquiry care groups and Churches in Scotland expressed ‘deep regret’ and ‘shame’ to the victims.
The great passage of time from the 70’s and 80’s may mean that those people involved in the contaminated blood disaster have passed-away, such that apologies and regrets may be the only expression of justice available to some.
Canon Thomas Boyle said the Church had “missed red lights and warning signs”; poeple involved in the forthcoming Inquiry may anticipate a similar line of defence from the potentially culpable, or their representatives.
If these, or similar responses were expressed in the forthcoming inquiry, this would not be justice. Justice does not equate to a rehashing of the Penrose Inquiry which left many people questioning how £12.1 million was effective or value for money. That Inquiry’s medical advisor stated (on BBC Good Morning Scotland) that many records were reviewed from transfusion and haemophiliac cases and he saw absolutely no evidence of a cover-up, or notes to cover-up facts, in relation to missing medical records.
The lack of evidence of something happening does not mean that something did not happen.
Unfortunately it seems that there has been plenty of opportunity for evidence to go missing or destroyed and there is already templates for Inquiry responses around these issues.
We would ask that those people who have had issues with their medical records going missing or being destroyed etc., gather as much information around them as possible if you’ve not already done so, at this early stage in the Inquiry process. We recognise this may be a hard issue for some to go back and address but this Inquiry may be the last opportunity to try and get clsosure, emotional, psychological and financial closure, on this disaster. If you require help in relation to this, please get in touch.