UK

PM: Change needed to end pattern of scandal victims having to fight for decades

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a statement to the House of Commons following the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report.

Rishi Sunak gave a statement to the House of Commons on Monday following the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report
Rishi Sunak gave a statement to the House of Commons on Monday following the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report (Yui Mok/PA)

Changes must be made to end the pattern arising out of a number of public inquiries in which “innocent victims have to fight for decades just to be believed”, Rishi Sunak has said.

The Prime Minister gave a statement to the House of Commons on Monday following the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report.

It has been one of the largest UK public inquiries, with some 374 people having given oral evidence and the inquiry having received more than 5,000 witness statements and reviewed more than 100,000 documents.

Mr Sunak said the Government will study the inquiry’s recommendations in detail, adding: “We must fundamentally rebalance the system so we finally address this pattern so familiar from other inquiries like Hillsborough, where innocent victims have to fight for decades just to be believed.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the report should “rock Whitehall to its very foundations” and that there needs to be a “major commitment to change” coming out of it.

He told the PA news agency: “We look at Hillsborough, which I was involved in, then we see (the) Post Office scandal, and today, infected blood, the full scale of the injustice laid bare.

“The pattern is clear: the country keeps people in the wilderness, it orchestrates cover-ups from the very top of government.”

Mr Burnham said he “fully supports” the inquiry’s recommendation for a statutory duty of candour on senior civil servants.

Andy Burnham during a Sunday Times press conference at Church House in Westminster after the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry report
Andy Burnham during a Sunday Times press conference at Church House in Westminster after the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry report (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He continued: “We cannot have a repeated situation where wrongs are covered up for decades, people left in the wilderness and all of the retraumatising effects of that.

“This country has to change. This report should rock Whitehall to its very foundations and we need to see a major commitment to change coming out of it.”

The mayor said there is an “accountability gap” in the country.

“I’m questioning whether or not our parliamentary democracy is fit for purpose because if you have an injustice on this scale, that affects thousands of people in all parts of the country, and our national parliament is incapable of overturning it for decades, then something is wrong,” he told PA.

“There is an accountability gap in the country.”