Victims of infected blood scandal should receive £100,000 payment ‘immediately’, says lawyer

Lawyer Des Collins (Katie Collins/PA) (PA Archive)
Lawyer Des Collins (Katie Collins/PA) (PA Archive)

Victims and famelies affected by the infected blood scandal must be paid their £100,000 compensation “immediately”, their lawyer has demanded.

The chairman of the inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff said the money should be paid to more than 2,000 surviving victims “without delay” and Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, has demanded that it is paid within 14 days.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme, Mr Collins said: “When I say immediately I don’t mean within three months, I mean immediately.

“It must be within days or weeks. I would have said 14 days is not an unreasonable time for the wheels to be put in motion and that’s what we will be asking for on Monday.”

In his report, Sir Brian pointed out the Government does not have to take the reccommendations on board, but said his report on interim payments was “not the end of the inquiry’s work, and the question of compensation”.

He also admitted not everyone would benefit under the recommended payment scheme.

“I have decided to recommend that interim payments of no less than £100,000 are made to all infected people, and to all the bereaved partners, currently registered with the schemes and those who register between now and the inception of any future scheme.

“I know that this will be disappointing for some of you who may fall into neither category and I apologise for that. I ask those who are disappointed to remember that this is not the end of the inquiry’s work.”

It comes after a report on the interim payments by Sir Robert, who studied options for a framework for compensation for victims of the infected blood tragedy, was published in June.

The inquiry was established to examine how thousands of patients in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

About 2,400 people died in what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

In a letter to Paymaster General Michael Ellis accompanying the report, Sir Brian said: “It was the force of Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendation of an interim payment, as amplified by him in the course of his oral evidence to the inquiry, that caused me to reflect on whether I should exercise my powers to make such a report.

“I believed that elementary justice required that I consider this question. No submission made to me argued that I should not make a recommendation.

“Having considered the submissions and reflected on the evidence this inquiry has heard of profound physical and mental suffering across a wide range of backgrounds, from a diversity of places and in a variety of personal circumstances, I considered it right that I should make this report.

“I recommend that: (1) An interim payment should be paid, without delay, to all those infected and all bereaved partners currently registered on UK infected blood support schemes, and those who register between now and the inception of any future scheme; (2) The amount should be no less than £100,000, as recommended by Sir Robert Francis QC.”