Willott's Blood Scandal Evidence Receives Round of Applause

2007 Mehefin 14 4:46 PM

Today, Jenny Willott MP gave evidence to the Archer Inquiry into the scandal that has seen thousands of haemophiliacs infected with HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated commercial blood products imported from the US by the NHS in the 1970s and 80s.

Her evidence, which received a round of applause from the audience, many of whom are directly affected by this case, suggested that the Department of Health:

• Abandoned its policy to achieve self-sufficiency in blood products around 1978/79 and relied increasingly on commercial blood product imports even though these had a high risk of HIV and Hep C contamination.

• Have failed to explain or investigate the destruction of a large numbers of documents and legal waivers directly relating to this issue.

• Is restricting access to important documents and departmental records.

• Has very often answered Parliamentary Questions late, inaccurately and incompletely on this issue.

• Is not co-operating with the Inquiry in providing information and witnesses to identify what happened.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"The Department of Health's behaviour over this issue has only helped to fuel suspicions that they have something to hide.

"Nearly every effort I have made to look into this issue has been met with slow, unhelpful, often incomplete, sometimes inaccurate and even misleading responses from the Department of Health.

"The Department still insists that, during the late 1970s and 80s, it was trying to use domestic blood products over imported ones due to the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C contamination. The evidence suggests the reverse.

"There are too many instances of important documents that relate to this issue being destroyed or lost. This has happened on at least four separate occasions since the mid-1990s and the Department has not fully explained why documents were destroyed and who destroyed them. Indeed on 3 of these occasions, they have not done any investigation into the events surrounding the destruction.

"The Department is still sitting on thousands of relevant documents that it hasn't yet released. And they currently have no plans to send someone to answer the questions posed by the Inquiry.

"Haemophiliacs have had to wait over 20 years now to find out how they came to be infected with HIV and Hepatitis C. Over a thousand have died from these diseases.

"The Department has a moral duty to the victims and a ethical duty to democracy to co-operate with this ongoing Inquiry. Without full co-operation from the Department, the Inquiry won't be able to get a full picture of how so many came to be infected."

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