Joint Member Meeting – SIBF and Haemophilia Scotland, Saturday 20th January 201818th December 2017
PM announces Inquiry to be Chaired by Judge supported by a Panel21st December 2017
Today we received an update from the Cabinet Office of the key points which were discussed at all three meetings over the last 2 weeks. These are summarised at high level below:
- Discussions were held on the most appropriate type of Chair for the public inquiry. The consensus throughout all the meetings was that the inquiry should be led by a single chair with the support of a panel. There were mixed views on the type of Chair in terms of whether he/she ought to be a Judge or a senior legal professional, or other. However, all attendees agreed that it should be someone with the ability to consider complex issues, and that they should be available immediately, and able to work full-time on the inquiry for the necessary duration.
- Initial views were sought on the Terms of Reference. It was made clear that these were initial discussions, but several attendees confirmed that they would not be able to comment on the Terms of Reference without the presence of their lawyers. Therefore discussions were kept to broad principles and timelines. It was noted that the Terms of Reference should allow for all relevant issues to be investigated, but also ensure that the Inquiry is able to complete and report within a reasonable timeframe.
- There were mixed views in the meetings on how the two main areas affected (whole blood and blood products) should be treated within the Inquiry, which have been noted, but all attendees agreed that it was important that everyone affected by infected blood should be given the opportunity to contribute, and should be able to reach the truth of what has happened.
- It was reiterated in each meeting that it is important to proceed quickly, but that this must be balanced with the need to make the right decisions in terms of Chair and Terms of Reference.
- The First Secretary of State confirmed that the independent Chair, when appointed, would carry out further consultation on the draft Terms of Reference. The precise timescales of this consultation will be set out by the Chair when appointed.
- The First Secretary of State also confirmed that he hoped to make an announcement on the Chair before Christmas. More information on next steps will follow as soon as possible.
UPDATE (Wed 20 Dec ’17, 23.00): Damian Green has resigned from Government over breaches of the Ministerial Code. It is unclear at the time of writing who will replace him as First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for the setting-up and oversight of the Public Inquiry.