22 September 2020
Lord Owen gives oral evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry.
As Minister of Health from 1974-76,Lord Owen provided extra resources for the UK to become self-sufficient in blood products in order to avoid importing blood products, particularly from the US. The goal of self-sufficiency was also recommended by the World Health Organisation in 1975 “being aware of the higher risk of transmitting diseases when blood products have been obtained from paid rather than from voluntary donors.”
Lord Owen had set a target of reaching self-sufficiency within 2-3 years and targets were being met, but over the years demand also increased and self-sufficiency was not given the priority to which Lord Owen attached.
Many thousands of British haemophiliacs, in particular, and others became infected with first hepatitis C and also in the 1980s HIV. Many individuals and organisations for years have pressed for an Inquiry.
In 2007 a private inquiry chaired by Lord Archer was established which reported in 2009 – to which Lord Owen gave written and oral evidence – but calls for compensation received a non-committal response from the government. Finally, in 2018 a full Public Inquiry was announced by the Government to be chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff.
Read Lord Owen’s written statement to the Inquiry here. [Please note there is a typographical error on p. 18 para 46 which should read Alf Morris not John Morris].
A Supplementary statement is here.
The four hearings involving Lord Owen can be viewed on the following links