Contaminated Blood Scandal - Compensation Letter from Sir Brian Langstaff

Today the Infected Blood Inquiry website has published a letter sent by the Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff to the Cabinet Office Minister, David Lidington. Some press outlets have today highlighted the fact that Sir Brian’s letter alludes to the call for full compensation to be paid to victims / families of the Contaminated Blood Scandal. Factor 8 of course welcomes the call for full compensation. We are though minded of the reasoning as to why this has never happened despite decades of endless campaigning by many, and it all comes down to one word, liability.

Following our investigations, it is our current conclusion that the British Government (of any colour) will never pay full compensation unless liability is either accepted or established. We do of course believe it is high-time the State accepted liability when it comes to the administration of Factor Concentrate products in the 1970’s and 1980’s and we encourage the call for the Government to accept liability in the face of clear evidence, rather than dragging victims and families through the courts as it is at present.

Below we provide quotations from historical internal documentation conveying the Government’s long-held position and thinking when it comes to the issue of compensation for the Contaminated Blood Scandal.

Whilst Norman and Tony made it quite clear how much they sympathised, the Government’s position was that there has never been a general State scheme to compensate those who suffer adverse effects from medical treatment. Compensation can only be awarded by the courts if negligence is proved
— Letter from John Major to Margaret Thatcher (25th September 1987)
The Government have the deepest sympathy for the plight of haemophiliacs. However there has never been a general State scheme to compensate those who suffer the unavoidable adverse effects which can in rare cases unhappily arise from some medical procedures. Compensation is awarded by the Courts in cases where negligence has been proved.
— Letter from Baroness Trumpington to Anthony Nelson MP (1986)

Although more recent Governments have been less explanatory in this reasoning, Ministers still allude to the exact same policy which remains essentially unchanged.

As liability has not been established in the majority of cases, it is not appropriate to talk about infected blood support payments in terms of compensation.
— Jackie Doyle-Price (4th September 2018)
Compensation is paid on the basis of legal liability.
— Jackie Doyle-Price (19th July 2017)
Liability has not been established in the majority of cases of individuals infected with hepatitis C and/or HIV through NHS-supplied blood or blood products, so it would not be appropriate to talk about support payments in terms of compensation.
— Jane Ellison (5th January 2016)

The above statements span from the 1980’s all the way up to 2018 and covey the same message, without liability acceptance or establishment, there will not be compensation.

This then must focus our minds upon campaigning and working towards liability, not only for compensatory reasons, for which liability is seemingly the prerequisite for this country’s Government’s, but also to ensure that Truth, Justice and Accountability are met.