Infected blood victims’ lawyers will hold new Prime Minister to compensation pledge
Infected Blood Inquiry core participants’ lawyers say they will hold the new Prime Minister to their campaigning pledge to compensate victims of the contaminated blood scandal.
Posted on 04 August 2022
Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have both backed a recommendation by Inquiry Chairman Sir Brian Langstaff to make interim payments of £100,000 to infected individuals and bereaved partners.
Sir Brian wrote to Paymaster General Michael Ellis saying the payments should be made “without delay”. His letter accompanied an interim report by Sir Brian which referred to evidence of “profound physical and mental suffering” caused by infections contracted through blood and blood products.
The Inquiry was set up to examine how thousands of patients in the UK were infected with viruses, including HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B through contaminated blood and blood products in the 1970s, 19080s and 1990s. It is estimated that 2,400 people have since died as a result of the infections.
Leigh Day partner Emma Jones represents over 300 core participants to the Infected Blood Inquiry. She welcomed Sir Brian’s interim report and the further comments made by Prime Ministerial candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
Mr Sunak said: “The contaminated blood scandal is a tragic injustice and we must now match words with action, just as we did with those affected by the Thalidomide scandal. Survivors and their families need to have certainty now, so I’d ensure the interim compensation payments recommended by Sir Brian Langstaff are paid without delay.”
Ms Truss said: “Thousands of victims and their families . . . have waited long enough to get the compensation they need and deserve, so as prime minister I will ensure interim payments are made as soon as possible"
Beatrice Morgan, assistant solicitor to Emma Jones, said:
“We welcome the pledges made by Mr Sunak and Ms Truss in response to Sir Brian’s recommendations which were made in light of months of evidence heard by the Inquiry of the terrible suffering endured by infected blood victims and their families. Although the full inquiry report isn’t expected until 2023, it is important that these payments are made without delay in full recognition of the catastrophic impact that this scandal has had on those infected and affected.
“We expect Mr Sunak and Ms Truss, whichever becomes PM, to keep their pledges and make sure these payments are made as a matter of urgency as soon as he or she is in office.
We hope that in his final report Sir Brian will make a recommendation that the Government address the injustice that not all those infected are eligible for financial support under the current schemes, and ensure that they are not unfairly refused compensation in the future. “
Gene Matthews, who represents infected blood claimants, said:
"The victims of this scandal have been waiting decades for any proper compensation or apology for the devastating impact of receiving contaminated blood, or blood products, on them and their families' lives. They should not have to suffer the added insult of delay for the sole reason that there is a change of PM or no effective government. These payments must be made as soon as possible, any further delay will be entirely unacceptable."
Following a confirmation that the government is expected to announce that it will make the recommended £100,000 payments as soon as possible, Leigh Day partner Emma Jones said:
“We are pleased the current Prime Minister has acted swiftly to agree to the recommendation for the interim payment. We hope that the ministers tasked with resolving anticipated issues such as the payment not being subject to tax and not impacting on benefits, will act as quickly as possible to ensure those whose lives have been ruined by this tragedy can access the compensation as soon as possible.”
*This article was updated on Monday, 8 August.
Gene specialises in consumer law, product liability and data protection claims mainly brought as group claims/ multi-party actions