Government denies Legal Funding for Infected Blood Victims
In a shocking reneg on a previous commitment, the Cabinet Office has now informed us that they in-fact will NOT provide funding for legal representation during the Inquiry consultation period.
They state the reason for this is that:
"the circumstances of the Infected Blood Inquiry are different to those arising in relation to Grenfell Tower"
a letter from the Cabinet Office says that:
the commitment in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry was made because of the exceptional and extraordinary circumstances that survivors and victims families found themselves in after the fire; traumatised, many of them newly grief-stricken and some having lost their homes and possessions.
The implication within the letter being that these points do not apply to victims of infected blood products.
Campaign groups today have orchestrated a joint letter in reply to the Cabinet Office.
The original letter can be downloaded here.
The text of that letter can be found below. For press enquiries please Contact Us.
26th March 2018
RE: INFECTED BLOOD INQUIRY – LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR CONSULTATION
Dear Brian Williams,
We are writing to you today in complete disbelief and anger that the Cabinet Office has advised our legal team last Friday that we will be denied funding for legal representation at the consultation stage of the Public Inquiry into Infected Blood / Blood Products.
This is totally unacceptable and has only fuelled the long held feeling of this community that the victims and families of this scandal should be dealt with as cheaply and as insultingly as possible.
Your reply to our legal team on 23rd March draws the following conclusions about why funding for legal representation at this stage was provided to the Grenfell Tower victims / families:
· “the exceptional and extraordinary circumstances that survivors and victims’ families found themselves in”
· “many of them newly grief-stricken”
· “some having lost their homes and Possessions”
· “the exceptional nature and gravity of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and in particular its impact on the victims, survivors, the families of-the victims and the local residents affected by the tragedy"
I think our community would be very interested to know which of these points you feel are not applicable to the victims / families of infected blood products?
To take your first point; we note that numerous ministerial statements over the years have already described our case as both “exceptional” and that they were and are “extraordinary circumstances”.
Clearly, most victims and families are deeply traumatised and it is well documented at this point that over 70 victims have died since the Inquiry was announced last year (71 people died in the Grenfell Tower Fire), meaning there are many “newly grief stricken” families in our community also. Many in our community have also lost homes and possessions as a result of what happened.
The “nature and gravity” of the contaminated blood scandal goes unrivalled in modern times. The number of dead is in the thousands. You seem to be suggesting that the slow and agonising deaths that occur as a result of Hepatitis and HIV / AIDS resulting in loss of mental capacity, bodily function and causing severe pain on multiple levels is in some way a lesser tragedy than the events at Grenfell Tower.
The ring-fence that the Government has attempted to present here is based upon a completely flawed argument that shows nothing but contempt and lack of understanding of our community, who will quite simply be outraged should this position be maintained.
We do not intend on being side-lined as second class and unworthy of the same representation afforded to others. We will not let this issue go away quietly; an urgent re-think here is in order immediately.
Terms of Reference are a crucial aspect of the Inquiry, perhaps the most crucial when we consider, for example, the Penrose Inquiry, which was widely criticised for its Terms of Reference.
Many in our community are living with profound psychological / mental impacts as a result of what happened and they will be disadvantaged if they do not have full legal input at this stage.
We ask that you re-consider this position quickly.
N B & Adrian M (Birchgrove Group)
Stuart M (Contaminated Blood Public Inquiry Group)
Jason Evans (Factor 8)
Dave Tonkin & Dave Fielding (Manor House Group)
Clair W & Maxine M (Positive Women)
Andrew Evans (Tainted Blood)
Sue Threakall (Tainted Blood Widows)
Tony Farrugia & Tim Wratten (The Fatherless Generation)
B W (The Forgotten Few)