Des Collins, Senior Partner of Collins Solicitors, representing over 1,000 victims and their families as well as eight campaign groups at the Public Inquiry, comments:
“Over the first two weeks of the Infected Blood Public Inquiry we heard harrowing testimonies from victims and their families. There is no doubt that the hearings in Belfast will be incredibly difficult for all those who are sharing their story publicly – often for the first time.
While the nightmare continues for many people – whether infected by Hepatitis C and/or HIV/AIDS – as well as for the friends, families and loved ones of the thousands of people who have died, this Inquiry and these hearings are a first step towards finding out the truth. This is so important for those people who have been ignored for so long and who thought this day may never come.
Fittingly, this is the largest Public Inquiry ever to be heard in the UK. It is a testament to the campaigners determined to make this Inquiry happen and to see this through that on Tuesday we will hear the first testimonies in public in Northern Ireland.
The whole community which has been affected will, in due course, start to get some answers and to understand how and why they received infected treatments, details of the extensive cover-up that followed, and – very importantly – what the government proposes to do about it.”
- Nearly two years after the Infected Blood Public Inquiry was announced by the Prime Minister, the nationwide schedule of Public Hearings began in London on Tuesday 30th April, 2019.
- Hearings are taking place in London, Belfast, Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff (see the Hearing Dates and Locations schedule below).
- The Infected Blood Public Inquiry was established to determine how and why so many haemophiliacs were treated with contaminated plasma products such as Factor VIII in the 1970s and 80s, resulting in victims being infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C.
- The Inquiry will consider evidence from approximately 2,500 people, most of whom were infected with, or affected by, contaminated blood products such as Factor VIII or IX.
- Around 140 people will give evidence in person over the 11 weeks of public hearings.
- Collins Solicitors represents more than 1,000 victims, their families and eight campaign groups at the Public Inquiry, a number of whom are giving oral evidence.
Hearing Dates & Locations
- Belfast, International Conference Centre Belfast, Waterfront Hall: 21-24 May
- London, Fleetbank House: 4-7 June
- Leeds, Crowne Plaza Hotel: 11-14 June, 18-21 June
- Edinburgh, Edinburgh International Conference Centre: 2-5 July, 8-11 July
- Cardiff, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama: 23-26 July
- London, Fleetbank House: 8-11 October, 15-18 October
Watching or attending the Public Inquiry hearings
- As this is a Public Inquiry, anyone can attend in person to watch the hearings.
- For individuals and media planning to attend it is sensible to contact the Inquiry beforehand.
- Additionally, the hearings will be streamed live on the internet via the Infected Blood Public Inquiry’s YouTube Channel
- The Contaminated Blood Scandal has affected almost 4,000 people in the UK (mostly haemophiliacs) infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C from a commercial, plasma-derived Medicine known as Factor VIII.
- Factor VIII was made by pooling, or mixing together, many thousands of plasma donations, which was then processed, boxed and shipped as ‘Factor VIII Concentrate’. Most of it was sourced from abroad and there were various US pharmaceutical companies who sold these products to the NHS during the 1970s and 80s.
- The tragedy of infected Factor VIII is the largest loss-of-life incident in modern Britain with total haemophiliac confirmed deaths surpassing 1,500.
- The focus of the Inquiry is to understand what happened, to find out why so many people were infected, why so little was done to stop the use of these products and to prevent infection, who allowed it to happen and why there was such a long-running and comprehensive cover up with regards to what happened.
Timing and history of the Inquiry:
- The timing is not fixed, but it is expected that the Public Inquiry will last for between two and five years.
- The Government announced the Public Inquiry on 11th July 2017.
- The appointment of Public Inquiry Chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, was confirmed on 8th February, 2018.
- The consultation phase into the Terms of Reference for the Public Inquiry ended on 26th April 2018.
- The Public Inquiry formally opened on 2nd July 2018.
- The initial public, opening statements were heard from 21st to 23rd September 2018.
- The initial public hearings (the testimonies of those infected and/or affected) started on Tuesday 30th April and run until Friday 18th October 2019, with the Inquiry moving between five major UK cities for the different hearings.
- Des Collins, Senior Partner, Collins Solicitors, T) 01923 223 324, M) 07831 522 540 firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Danielle Holliday, Partner, Collins Solicitors, T) 01923 223 324, M) 07540 531 753 email@example.com:
- Will Hulbert, PR, Hulbert & Co., T) 01603 431 936, M) 07774 108 699 firstname.lastname@example.org:
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Collins Solicitors represents more than 1,000 victims, their families and eight campaign groups, including:
- Birchgrove Group
- Factor 8
- Fatherless Generation
- Forgotten few
- Manor House
- Positive Women
- Tainted Blood
- Tainted Blood Widows
Anyone affected by the issues covered by the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, whether victims or relatives of victims, has the right to be represented.
- 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.
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 October, 2017. Collins Solicitors also represents over 500 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 email@example.com: