Department of Health & The Treasury destroyed contaminated blood evidence DURING the Penrose Inquiry
It’s been quite a news filled week. On Monday it was brought to light that Civil Servants had “checked-out” almost a thousand files relevant to contaminated blood issues going back over a decade, and, on Thursday we learnt that the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, failed to distribute a notice asking NHS bodies not to destroy contaminated blood evidence as requested by the Infected Blood Inquiry.
At Factor 8 we have recently begun a project known as the “Macro Timeline”, it is not yet publicly available, though it is our aim to do so soon.
The research into building this timeline has revealed a stark fact, that both the Department of Health and The Treasury destroyed files relevant to contaminated blood issues during the course of the Penrose Inquiry.
The Penrose Inquiry in Scotland was announced in 2008 and it’s final report (the great whitewash as it came to be known) was published in March 2015.
The first piece of destruction that occurred during The Penrose Inquiry, comes on behalf of The Treasury, who in 2013 destroyed a file entitled “Haemophiliacs with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): contingent liability” - we also know that the documents that were contained in this file all pre-date 31st December 1991. We have the destruction of this file confirmed in a communication received from the Information Rights Unit at The Treasury on 28th March 2018.
The second piece of destruction that occurred during the Penrose Inquiry that we have become aware of comes courtesy of the Department of Health & Social Care. In 2014 the DHSC destroyed a BLH file entitled “HAEMOPHILIA SOCIETY” and we have have also been advised it’s contents covered the time period 23rd June 1986 - 18th August 1986. In a communication from a Freedom of Information Officer at DHSC on 9th May 2018, it was said that the file was “deemed to be unsuitable for permanent preservation”.
It is in unfortunately our opinion, doubtful these two examples are isolated.
Whilst it has been said for over a decade that all documents not already in the public domain were destroyed, it has become increasingly clear that there are a lot more documents in existence than the community has been led to believe or have ever been seen outside of Whitehall.