Stark contrast between Government response to Post Office Horizon victims and Infected Blood
By Law News
The Inquiry is still to hear evidence from many key witnesses who are likely to be heavily criticised and/or lawyers who may be struck off.
The Government yesterday announced that £600,000 would be paid to each of the wrongfully convicted Sub-Postmasters, despite the fact that the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, chaired by Sir Wyn Williams, has yet to conclude and publish its Final Report and Recommendations.
In contrast, the Government has not yet provided any response whatsoever to the Infected Blood Compensation Framework Study it commissioned from Sir Robert Francis and which was published in June last year. The Government’s only response to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s Second Interim Report in which Inquiry Chair Sir Brian Langstaff concluded “that wrongs were done at an individual, collective and systemic levels” was that it is “difficult to formulate and conclude a response” until after the Inquiry’s Final Report.
Des Collins, Senior Partner of Collins Solicitors who represents some 1500 individuals and their families who have been infected by the infected blood scandal, comments:
“Whilst we do not begrudge the Government compensating Post Office Horizon victims, yesterday’s announcement is a glaring reminder of the starkly different attitude they are taking on compensation for the Infected Blood scandal. It shows, once again, that those affected are being treated unfairly and deprioritised.
“Despite the Paymaster General accepting the Infected Blood scandal “shouldn’t have happened” and the “moral case for compensation”, my clients have been waiting and waiting for redress. Yet the Government continues to kick the issue of meaningful compensation into the long grass.
“The victims of the Infected Blood scandal are dying at a rate of one every 4 days, whilst the Government continues to sit on its hands insisting that it must wait for the Final Report, notwithstanding that in April this year Sir Brian Langstaff recommended the immediate setting up of a Compensation Scheme and an immediate interim payment of £100,000 to recognise those who had already died.
“The Post Office announcement yesterday makes it clear that the Government could set up a Compensation Scheme for Infected Blood victims if it wants to prior to the publication of the Inquiry Final Report, but it simply chooses not to.”
The Infected Blood Inquiry, chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff, is the UK's largest ever statutory inquiry, established to investigate how men women and children were given infected blood and blood products by the NHS from the 1970s. Following an intervention by Sir Brian, the Government made interim payments of £100,00 last October to those victims of the infected blood scandal still alive and a small number of widows. This left other victims of the scandal such as orphans and relatives still in limbo. On 5th April 2023, Sir Brian published his Second Interim Report recommending that interim payments of £100,000 should be made in respect of deaths not yet recognised to "alleviate immediate suffering". His report said: "These interim payments should be capable of being made through the support schemes after registration and of being achieved reasonably quickly. They can and should be achievable before the compensation scheme itself is operational." There has been no official Government response to this to date.