The UK’s largest ever statutory inquiry, The Infected Blood Inquiry, chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff, will reopen on Tuesday 22nd September with former Health Minister Lord David Owen due as its first witness of this session.
Lord Owen’s evidence comes ahead of a new 90-minute ITV documentary about the contaminated blood scandal which will air on Sunday 27th September at 22:20pm.
Lord Owen was Minister of State for Health from 1974 – 1976, pledging that the UK would become self-sufficient in blood products. That never happened, and instead, the UK imported large quantities of Factor VIII from high-risk sources overseas.
Factor VIII is a clotting medication for Haemophilia. It infected around 4,000 people with Hepatitis C in the 1970s/1980s, and over 1,200 of those people were also infected with HIV. At least 1,500 have since died as a result. It is estimated that one victim continues to die every four days.
Now a life peer, Owen has publicly called the scandal a cover-up and has said that legally, “The government hasn’t got a leg to stand on.” His testimony could prove explosive and put on the official record what those impacted have been waiting to hear for decades.
Des Collins (Senior Partner, Collins Solicitors) who represents over 1,500 victims and affected families, comments: “The resumption of the Infected Blood Inquiry is a new opportunity for politicians and medical professionals to come clean as to their involvement in the biggest medical scandal in living memory. We applaud Lord Owen for giving his testimony – he has long stated his disapproval of the way Whitehall has treated those who were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
“It’s high time successive Health Secretaries and Ministers, each with responsibility for an apparent abrogation of duty, showed similar resolve and came to the Inquiry to give detailed and honest testimony. After some 40 years, the infected and affected deserve to hear the truth from those in charge at the time.
“We also renew our calls for the Government to accept liability and pay immediate, meaningful compensation to all those whose lives have been destroyed by the contaminated blood scandal – the victims and their families have a right to justice now, rather than waiting until the Inquiry reports in a couple of years’ time.”
Jason Evans (Founder of campaign and claimant group Factor 8) said: “Victims and families have waited a long time for this moment and I think Lord Owen also has. He has long been a supporter of our campaign and has made several attempts over the years to expose wrong-doing. We hope that following this evidence; the government will not delay any further in accepting its clear liability.”
Hearings take place at Fleetbank House, London, EC4Y 8AE and can also be followed live on the Infected Blood Inquiry website/YouTube channel
ITV’s “In Cold Blood” is a new 90-minute feature-length documentary in the award-winning Exposure current affairs strand which examines the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history. Directed by Grierson winning documentary maker Marcus Plowright, this documentary investigates claims that thousands of British haemophiliacs were infected and died from HIV and Hepatitis C after being prescribed tainted blood products by the NHS. With access to thousands of previously unpublished documents from inside government – revealing the thinking of its medical, scientific and public health leadership – the film examines claims that warnings were systematically ignored, and that the story was subsequently covered up.
In Cold Blood airs on ITV – Sunday 27th September at 22:20pm
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