Politicians could be prosecuted over infected blood scandal, says former Supreme Court justice

A former Supreme Court justice has said it is “certainly conceivable” that politicians and officials could be prosecuted over the infected blood scandal.

Lord Saville, who also chaired the Bloody Sunday inquiry, was commenting after the publication of a long-awaited report into the scandal. 

The report from the inquiry’s chair Sir Brian Langstaff blamed “successive governments, the NHS, and blood services” for failures that led to 30,000 people being “knowingly” infected with either HIV or Hepatitis C through blood products.

Sir Brian’s inquiry identified a “catalogue of systemic, collective and individual failures” that amounted to a “calamity”.

Infected blood scandal: Diana Johnson says compensation delay added ‘layer of hurt’

Some 26,800 people are estimated to have been infected with hepatitis C after receiving blood transfusions — which can be needed following accidents or childbirth complications.

An estimated 2,900 people had died as a result of the scandal by 2019.

Asked about the possibility of prosecutions, Lord Saville told Times Radio on Tuesday morning: “Well, it’s certainly conceivable. Again, it depends on the circumstances of the particular case.

“But if people have deliberately set about to lie or to try and present the situation as different from what they know or believe is the case, well, then I can see there could well be grounds for prosecution.”

In a statement to the House of Commons yesterday, prime minister Rishi Sunak offered a “wholehearted and unequivocal” apology to the victims of the infected blood scandal, saying it is a “day of shame for the British state”.

Infected blood scandal: Sunak says report publication ‘a day of shame for the British state’

The prime minister said that there was an “an institutional failure to face up to these failings, and worse, to deny, and even attempt to cover them up”

Sunak added that the findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report should “shake our nation to its core”, as he promised to pay “comprehensive compensation to those infected and those affected”.

Responding to the statement, Labour leader Keir Starmer called the scandal “an injustice that has spanned across governments on an unprecedented scale”.

He said this was a failure of politics, adding: “That failure applies to all parties, including my own. … There is only one word: sorry”.

Later on Tuesday, the government will today set out details of a compensation scheme for victims.

The prime minister vowed on Monday to pay “whatever it costs” to those affected by the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, with reports the bill could surpass £10 billion.

Details are expected to be revealed by Cabinet Office minister John Glen in parliament.

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