I am announcing today the appointment of Sir Brian Langstaff to head the public inquiry into the infected blood scandal. The inquiry will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.
In relation to the appointment of the chair, the Lord Chief Justice was asked to recommend a judge who, in his view, would be best suited to the task. The Lord Chief Justice recommended Sir Brian Langstaff: a highly respected and hugely experienced High Court judge. I have accepted the Lord Chief Justice’s recommendation.
Sir Brian will be the full-time chair of the inquiry from 1 May following his retirement from the High Court. However, in order that those who have been affected by this tragedy face no further undue delay, he will use the intervening period to conduct a further consultation on the inquiry’s terms of reference.
The infected blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened. The victims of this tragedy who have endured so much pain and hardship deserve answers. It is crucial that their views are properly reflected in the inquiry’s terms of reference. Sir Brian will want to listen carefully to the voices of those that have suffered before making a recommendation to me on what the scope of the inquiry should be. I will return to Parliament with the final terms of reference as soon as this process has been completed.
The Government will ensure that the inquiry has the resources that it needs to complete its work. The inquiry will, of course, also be independent of the Government.
It is very important that the inquiry can identify why and how this tragedy occurred and provide answers for all the victims who have suffered so terribly, and can identify lessons to be learned so that a tragedy of this scale can never happen again.