Ministers have promised an announcement “very soon” on who will lead an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, which claimed the lives of 2,400 people.
Regarded as one of the biggest peacetime disasters to hit the UK, Theresa May promised a full investigation into how thousands of NHS patients were given tainted blood infected with hepatitis and HIV in the 1970s and 1980s.
Following the PM’s announcement in July last year and a lengthy public consultation, the government announced the probe would be led by a judge and promised a further statement in January, but no further information has yet been released.
Labour MP Diana Johnson, who has led a campaign on behalf of victims and their families, tabled an urgent question in the Commons on Monday to demand an update from ministers.
“We do not want to see a repeat of the problems we have had with other inquiries, such as Grenfell,” she said.
“We also want the inquiry to investigate the aftermath of the scandal, including the allegations of a criminal cover-up, rather than just the events leading up to infections.
“Six and a half months have now passed. We were promised a statement in the new year and it’s been nearly a month, with no further progress.
“For those who have died in last six months, justice delayed is justice denied.
“The minister must now take immediate steps to secure for this community the truth and the justice they have been denied for far too long.”
The inquiry will be overseen by the Cabinet Office after MPs said the Department of Health could not be put in charge, as previous ministers and staff who served there could be implicated.
Cabinet Office Parliamentary secretary Chloe Smith said its chair will be named “very soon” following a request for a nomination from the Lord Chief Justice.
“This was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened,” she told the Commons.
“Victims and families deserve answers and they have my personal commitment to seeing this be done.
“This is a vital issue, and we are all fighting on the same side to ensure justice for the victims of this terrible tragedy and scandal.
“I agree there should be no further delay. The government is committed to getting this right, and getting this done quickly.”