Statement from the Contaminated Blood legal team at Collins Solicitors

The legal team representing over 500 victims and families of the Contaminated Blood Scandal, Collins Solicitors have published the below statement:

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Collins Solicitors Press Release 3rd November 2017

Ever since an inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal was promised this summer, Collins Solicitors has opposed the involvement of the Department of Health. It has always been our position that the Department of Health is itself too involved in the scandal and would be unable to organise an impartial inquiry that would gain the trust of victims.

When we launched a group action against the Department of Health on behalf of those victims who are our clients, the Department of Health’s involvement clearly became untenable. We therefore welcome today’s announcement that oversight of the upcoming inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal has been transferred to the Cabinet Office.

Collins Solicitors also welcome the announcement today that the inquiry will be a full statutory inquiry. We have argued since the start that the power to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath will be a vital component in the search for truth for the victims of the contaminated blood scandal and we consider this announcement to be a step closer to that truth.

Nevertheless, we consider it regrettable that no chair has yet been appointed, leading to further delays for the victims. Some of the victims of the contaminated blood scandal have been waiting longer than thirty years for the truth. It is easy for those not directly involved to forget that many of these victims, labouring under HIV, hepatitis and the life threatening complications of those diseases, die every year.

Time really is of the essence for the victims of this scandal. The fact that the consultation process was extended to nearly four months means that there are already some who have passed away, never to know the truth behind how they became infected with the disease that caused their death. We are dismayed that the Cabinet Office will spend nearly another two months analysing the consultation. We cannot see what the cabinet office can possibly analyse. The consultation was limited to what type of inquiry and who should sponsor it. Both of those questions have now been answered. The delaying tactics of this government are quite astonishing.

Collins Solicitors calls on the Cabinet Office to speedily appoint a chair who will then set the terms of reference for the inquiry in consultation with victims and their representatives, with the aim of minimising any further delay.

Des Collins
Senior Partner
Collins Solicitors
T) 01923 223 324

Danielle Holliday
Partner
Collins Solicitors
T) 01923 223 324

Infected Blood Inquiry Update for 4th November 2017

Yesterday it was announced that the Cabinet Office and not the Department of Health would be the sponsoring department to the Inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal and that it would be a full Statutory Inquiry. Victims, families and lawyers were however disappointed that this announcement did not name the Judge who would chair the inquiry.

Campaign groups have urged those affected to write to their MP's to ask the Cabinet Office to immediately appoint a Judge.

Damian Green said yesterday:

On 11 July 2017, the Prime Minister announced that a full, independent public inquiry would be held into the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s, and promised to work with the victims and families of those affected by this tragedy in order to decide what form the inquiry should take. Since then, we have been listening to views from the affected community and have received over 800 written responses to the consultation, which closed on 18 October.

I am keen for the inquiry to proceed as quickly as possible in order to provide those affected with the answers they deserve. Taking into account the views of those who responded to the consultation, I am announcing today that responsibility for setting up the independent inquiry will transfer from the Department of Health to the Cabinet Office with immediate effect. I am also announcing that this will be a full statutory public inquiry, created under the 2005 Inquiries Act.

The Cabinet Office has now taken receipt of all the response to the consultation, which it will analyse thoroughly. This work will be completed as quickly as possible, and a further announcement will follow before the end of the year on the setting up of the inquiry.

Timeline of Inquiry progress so far:

  • An Inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal was announced on 11th July 2017 by the Prime Minister Theresa May.
  • Consultation on the Inquiry began on 20th July 2017 and was planned to end on 14th August 2017, however, this was subsequently extended by 2 months and the consultation ended on 18th October 2017.
  • On 27th October 2017 the 10 Downing Street Press Office confirmed that the Department of Health would not be the "sponsoring department" of the Inquiry. 10 Downing street also said that "an announcement will be made in a few weeks".
  • On 3rd November 2017 it was announced that The Cabinet Office would be the "sponsoring department" of the Inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal, the responsible Minister was Damian Green.

WATCH: An interview with Dr Don Francis on the Tainted Blood Scandal

This intimate interview from CPAC gives a great insight into the Tainted Blood Scandal from one of the United States' most notorious epidemiologists Dr Don Francis who worked at the CDC in the 1980's.

Dr Francis explains his experience of the emergence of the AIDS crisis, he tells of how he was able to start going back and looking at the blood samples of gay men which had been stored as part of research into Hepatitis B vaccines, "we were shocked" he says, "it didn't take long to figure out HIV was blood borne illness". According to Don "we knew what the epidemiology was within months, it didn't take long at all".

Attributing much HIV infection through blood products like Factor VIII to the industries failure to screen out gay men Dr Francis say that "thousands of people who died without any reason are just a negative tribute to the donors and lack of response", he says preventing the situation was "pretty straight forward". Summarising events he says "it was stupid".

He goes on to make the case that recipients of blood products should have sat on the committees that made decision relating to safety and not just those who stood to profit or loose money relating to decisions that were taken.

A lot of people died essentially unnecessarily
— Dr Don Francis

WATCH: New Documentary - Justice Tainted Blood

This new documentary from CPAC examines the history of the Tainted Blood Scandal in Canada. Kicking off with the emergence of AIDS in the 1980's, the documentary reflects on the outbreak into the plasma supply including input from the world renowned CDC veteran Don Francis. The film also moves on to look at the impact of Hepatitis C on the Haemophilia community in Canada and the subsequent fight for justice including the Krever Inquiry which went on to lay criminal charges and apportion blame.

The documentary comes out an interesting time with an announcement for the UK Inquiry expected shortly.