13 December 2018

Inquiry Chair welcomes waiving of legal privilege by Department of Health and MHRA

Sir Brian Langstaff calls on others to follow

The Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, has welcomed the decision by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to waive their rights to legal professional privilege (LPP) in relation to the Inquiry and any documents it is requesting, excluding the conduct of any current or proposed litigation.

LPP, which grants a protection from disclosing legal advice, could have been used by the DHSC and MHRA to withhold documents or papers that involved government legal advice. The Inquiry is tasked with investigating matters spanning a period of over 50 years, and given the passage of time, LPP and confidentiality issues will, in many cases, no longer be valid.

Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Inquiry said:

“I am pleased that the Department of Health and MHRA have agreed to waive legal professional privilege given their central role within the Inquiry and that this week they have disclosed large volumes of material to the Inquiry. I have committed to the principle of this being the most transparent of public inquiries but that requires other departments, agencies and bodies to play their part too.

I expect all government departments, public organisations and others providing documents and information to the Inquiry to give careful consideration to waiving LPP. Those that do not will be conspicuous for that reason.”