PRESS RELEASE: Department of Health apologises for False Ministerial Statements on Blood Scandal

4th July 2018 - PRESS RELEASE

Department of Health apologises for False Ministerial Statements on Blood Scandal

Factor 8 can today reveal that the Department of Health has apologised for false Ministerial statements which were issued throughout 2017.

The false statements in question relate to evidence relevant to the Contaminated Blood Scandal. An Inquiry set to investigate the Scandal began on Monday 2nd July 2018.

Ministers said in 2017 that:

All documents up to 1995 are available through the National Archive.

However, following an exercise conducted by Factor 8 and hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, it was found that this, in fact, was not true. We had attempted to take this issue up directly with the Department of Health to no avail and so we sought the assistance of Baroness Featherstone who was able to put forward our claims and make progress.

Jason Evans (Founder of Factor 8) said:

For many years victims and families have been told and led to believe that all available documentation and evidence relating to the scandal had been either placed into the public domain or destroyed. Quite quickly during my investigation into this claim it became apparent that there was evidence held by the Department of Health that has never been released to anybody, we are talking about many thousands of pages. The obvious question is why?

Following the apology the Department of Health has said it is now carrying out "an assurance process", they said:

In the interest of transparency, and to ensure that we are able to provide everything that may be of use to the Infected Blood Inquiry and others, I have asked officials to identify all files the
Department holds, or has held, that are in any way linked to the issue of infected blood. This
includes files on what was known about the viruses, testing for and treatment of the viruses and any other files that relate to blood donation, blood products and blood safety from the period up to 1995, and identify which of those files are already available in The National Archives, which are in the process of being transferred and which, if any, are not yet in the process of being transferred. This process of file identification will be completed shortly so that we are in a position to respond to any requests from the Infected Blood Inquiry team.

However, the Department of Health is now using it's "assurance process" to block any further Freedom of Information requests upon newly identified files by Factor 8. In a response which cancelled over 50 Pending FOI requests made by this organisation the Department of Health said:

the public interest is better served by withholding
this information

The Public Inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal which began on 2nd July 2018 will seek to establish if there has been a cover-up.

Des Collins of Collins Solicitors (Representing Factor 8, Victims and Families) said:

I am hopeful - and anticipate - that for the thousands of victims and their families that, as this Public Inquiry opens, it will start to give them some long overdue answers as to how and why
they received infected treatments, the cover-up that followed, and what the government proposes to do about it.

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