The Statutory Inquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal was set up following an announcement by the Prime Minster in 2017. In a statement in Parliament Theresa May described the scandal as “an appalling tragedy which should simply never have happened”.
The Government later confirmed the inquiry would be a full statutory inquiry established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, and be sponsored by the Cabinet Office.
This means the inquiry has full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.
In February 2018 it was announced that Sir Brian Langstaff, a former High Court Judge, would be the full time Chair of the Inquiry. Speaking on his appointment Sir Brian said: “Providing infected blood and plasma products to patients truly deserves to be called a major scandal. I intend through this Inquiry to be able to provide both some well-needed answers to the victims and their families, and recommend steps to ensure that its like will never happen again.” The Inquiry officially got underway on 2 July 2018, following the announcement in the House of Commons of the detailed Terms of Reference. Click here to view the Inquiry’s full terms of reference.
Sir Brian said: “What is difficult to comprehend is the sheer scale of what happened. The numbers of people, both adults and children, from all walks of life who were infected by Hepatitis viruses, or HIV, from clotting factor or transfused blood runs into thousands. At least as many more – including partners, children, parents, families, friends or carers – have been affected.
“This may have happened principally in the 1970s and 1980s, but the consequences persist today with people continuing to feel the mental, physical, social, work-related and financial effects.
“Many of the people infected and their families have battled for years to understand what happened and how they have been treated since. I aim to put the people who have been infected and affected at the heart of this Inquiry. I am determined to get to the truth and where necessary will use the Inquiry’s power to compel witnesses to explain their actions.”
The Inquiry team is currently reviewing submitted evidence, including 30,000 documents from The Haemophilia Society as well as many other organisations. It has announced a number of expert groups which will study the evidence given to the Inquiry. The groups will cover the issues of haematology, transfusion medicine, hepatology, virology, medical ethics, public health and administration, psychosocial impact and statistics.
On April 30 the Inquiry will resume its hearings and listen to oral evidence from those infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal. The Inquiry will sit in London, Leeds, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh to ensure the voices of people across the UK are heard. The full list of locations and dates can be found here.
The Haemophilia Society will provide regular updates once the hearings are underway.
Read and watch and hear the three preliminary hearing days, held at Church House, Westminster.
Read the outline programme and timetable for the Inquiry.