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GOVERNMENT "NO LEG TO STAND ON" OVER TAINTED BLOOD COMPENSATION

July 1, 2009 12:00 AM

Today, during a Westminster Hall debate on the Archer Inquiry into the infection of nearly 5,000 haemophiliacs with HIV and Hepatitis C through NHS blood products, Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, revealed evidence to show that the department's reasons for offering fair compensation to those infected is inaccurate and unjustified.

Lord Archer recommended that the Department offer compensation to the 2,800 survivors on a par with the scheme set up in Ireland - the Irish Tribunal Compensation Scheme.

However, the Department has repeatedly claimed that in Ireland, a judicial inquiry found the Department legally liable for infecting patients obliging greater compensation. Since there was no finding of legal liability in the UK, the Department is not obliged to offer similar compensation.

However, Jenny has seen confirmation from the Irish authorities and lawyers involved in the judicial inquiry, that there was no apportioning of blame, that payments began before the judicial inquiry began and in recognition of the extreme suffering of those infected, not because of any legal obligation.

The Minister did agree to meet with Jenny and a delegation of cross-party MPs, patient and haemophilia society representatives to discuss this further.

Commenting after the debate, Jenny said:

"The Government is plain wrong. The only difference between the Irish and UK cases is that the Irish government recognised and acted on the extreme suffering of those infected and our government has not.

"The Irish themselves state that their financial assistance scheme was setup on compassionate grounds, not because they were legally obliged to. The Government hasn't got a leg to stand on.

"Our government has a moral obligation to offer proper and fair financial support to the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as the widows of those who have already died.

"I'm glad the Minister did at least agree to meet with a delegation to discuss this further. This has gone on for over 20 years and taken the lives of 1,800 people. We must find a way to draw a line under this once and for all."