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Infected blood victims to receive compensation despite General Election

23 May 2024 4 minute read
Cressida Haughton (left) who’s father Derek and Deborah Dennis who’s father Dennis died, outside Central Hall in Westminster, London, after the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry report yesterday. Photo Jeff Moore/PA Wire

Victims of the infected blood scandal will receive compensation despite the upcoming General Election, the UK Government has confirmed.

The Victims and Prisoners Bill, which includes measures to establish a compensation body, is set to become law before Parliament is prorogued, as it has cleared the Lords and is ready for Royal Assent.

Elsewhere, it committed to ensuring victims of malicious complaints can have them scratched from the record.

There has been pressure for a change in the law after Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) was left with a social services file due to a vexatious report from a man who disagreed with her political views.

“We must progress this legislation, and we must continue to engage with the infected blood community on the details of the proposed scheme, ahead of them being set in regulations,” Lords deputy leader Earl Howe said.

Interim payment

Speaking at third reading, he added: “This legislation still provides for the duty of interim payment to the estates of deceased infected people, where payments were not previously received.

“In addition, a further interim payment of £210,000 is being made to living infected persons in recognition that this will meet the needs of those most likely to be disadvantaged by the passage of time.

“This payment will be delivered separately by the infected blood support schemes. The Government is working to deliver these payments to the living infected as a matter of urgency.

“The Department of Health and Social Care laid a written ministerial statement this morning to seek a contingencies fund advance to make these payments in England.

“And this morning the minister for the Cabinet Office met with the relevant health ministers in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to discuss these operational details.

“We’re working with the devolved administrations to make these payments swiftly, across the UK.”

Devolved administrations

Earl Howe continued: “Once we finalise the process with the devolved administrations, those due to receive these payments will receive details of the date of payment, directly from the infected blood support scheme they are registered with.”

The Conservative frontbencher confirmed that Sir Robert Francis will conduct an “engagement exercise with the community”, before regulations to establish the scheme are made.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton sought reassurance the compensation scheme would go ahead following the General Election.

Lady Campbell, an independent crossbench peer, said: “I would urge the minister to give a little bit more clarity, if he’s able today, so that we can go back and continue to give reassurances to a community that has been campaigning and working towards this week for probably 35 years.”

Earlier in the debate, the Government amended the Bill to ensure victims of malicious complaints can have them scratched from the record.

Justice minister Lord Bellamy said the Government’s amendment, which was passed by members, “creates the right for certain victims, who are data subjects, to request the deletion of personal data when the following two circumstances occur”.

He added: “An allegation is made by a person who has been convicted of a relevant criminal offence against the data subject, or the person is subject to a stalking protection order, made to protect the data subject form a risk associated with stalking.

“And secondly, following an investigation by the data controller, it’s been decided that no further action is to be taken in relation to the allegation.”

He added: “This amendment will provide a specific new ground for victims of stalking and harassment for the deletion of false allegation made about them, supporting them to prevent the further distress retaining this information may cause.”

Baroness Morgan of Cotes welcomed the Government’s “clear commitment” to developing strong guidance on the issue “after resisting for many months”.

The Conservative former cabinet minister added: “The law should be updated to recognise that in cases of stalking and harassment, one of the things that the stalker, harasser can do to pro-long the agony for their victims is to make a false and malicious allegation which stays on the record.

“And data controllers hide behind their rights in not deleting, even when the allegation has been found to be both false and malicious.”

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