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Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation ‘stayed’ to allow for detailed evidence to be presented at Infected Blood Public Inquiry

Collins Solicitors Press Release

Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation ‘stayed’ to allow for detailed evidence to be presented at Infected Blood Public Inquiry

28th November 2018

The next hearing of The Contaminated Blood Products Group Action (Group Action), running concurrently with the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, which was to be held at the High Court in London on Friday, has now been vacated and the proceedings stayed.

The stay of the Group Action will allow the Infected Blood Public Inquiry to hear detailed testimonies and evidence both from those infected and affected by contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s as well as those government bodies and companies called to give evidence.

The Group Action will then be able to take full account of the findings of Public Inquiry.

As part of the stay, the deadline for registration to join the Contaminated Blood Products Group Legal Action has been extended to 31st May 2019.

The Group Action was granted in July 2017, just one week before the Prime Minister announced the Infected Blood Public Inquiry.

The Group Action has been brought by Collins Solicitors on behalf of 500+ clients and will challenge the 1990-1 settlement of litigation by many people who were either infected or affected by the contaminated blood products Factor VIII & Factor IX in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the time of the settlement, the Government effectively decided not to be transparent and it withheld documents that could (and should) have been made available to the victims. This information has come to light in the intervening years. There is also significant additional documentation that has come to light that is now available as well as a significant amount of material that remains withheld.

Des Collins, Senior Partner of Collins Solicitors, commented:

“It is good that at the eleventh hour the defendant has recognised the futility of its position.

Staying the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation is undoubtedly the most sensible course of action right now.

The Public Inquiry can force individuals, companies and government departments to give evidence under oath. Sir Brian Langstaff has repeatedly stated that, as Chair of the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, he fully intends to get to the bottom of what went on in relation to contaminated blood products, and why.

Once we have heard the full story at the Inquiry, our clients will be in the best position possible to return to the High Court. I am convinced this is the best way forward and the route most likely to help our clients in their quest for justice.”

Notes to Editors
Further details on the background to this matter, its history, a timeline and relevant statistics are available here: www.collinslaw.co.uk/contaminated—blood

  • In the 1970s and 1980s, Factor VIII and Factor IX Concentrate Products were the most commonly used products to treat Haemophilia and were particularly high risk, with Factor VIII entering routine use in the late 1970s.
  • It is estimated that in the UK, almost 4,000 haemophiliacs who were given these treatments were infected with Hepatitis C, whilst over 1,243 also contracted HIV, in many of whom this then progressed to AIDS.
  • Some victims unwittingly infected their partners with HIV, of whom at least 31 have died.
  • The failure to act is estimated to have caused over 2,000 deaths nationwide, so far. Many victims died too early to be treated with modern life-prolonging medication, without which the death toll would have been much higher.
  • Fewer than 250 of the haemophiliacs who were “co-infected” with both Hepatitis C & HIV remain alive, most had died before 1997. Those who survive face a lifetime on medication having to cope with both a serious illness and truly shocking discrimination.

Infected Blood Public Inquiry Timeline:

  • After many years of campaigning by the victims of the Contaminated Blood Scandal, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the Infected Blood Public Inquiry on 11th July, 2017.
  • While the inquiry was originally sponsored by the Department of Health, it was transferred to the Cabinet Office on 3rd November, 2017.
  • A statement from the Prime Minister followed on 21st December, 2017 announcing that the forthcoming inquiry would be a full Public Inquiry.
  • Mr. Justice Langstaff was announced as Chair to the Public Inquiry on 8th February 2018, which was scheduled to start sitting in May 2018.
  • The consultation period with victims of the contaminated blood scandal to set the ‘terms of reference’ of the inquiry lasted until 26th April, 2018.
  • The Public Inquiry formally opened on 2nd July, 2018 with the first Public Hearings held on 24th – 26th September 2018.

Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation Order

  • In addition to the Public Inquiry, Collins Solicitors applied for the ‘Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation Order’ on behalf of its clients on 4th July, 2017 and this was granted on 27th September, 2017. Collins Solicitors also represents over 1000 victims and their families in this matter.

  • The High Court also ordered the Department of Health to disclose documents relating to previous litigation linked to the Contaminated Blood Scandal.
  • To join the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation, please contact Collins Solicitors on 01923 223 324 and ask for the Contaminated Blood Team, or email the firm at contaminatedblood@collinslaw.co.uk