The haemophilia clinicians hearings will continue as timetabled whilst the new coronavirus restrictions are in place in England from 5 November to 2 December.
Sir Brian Langstaff, and Ms Richards will continue to take evidence in the hearing room from witnesses online.
Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, said:
“I recognise that this is an uncertain time. More people than ever have been following the Inquiry’s hearings from home and I expect that many of you, will be wondering what the tighter restrictions that have been coming into force across the UK, and are expected to be in place in England from this Thursday 5 November, what they will mean for the Inquiry.
The first point to make is this. Many people have been waiting years for the answers this Inquiry is tasked with delivering - the Inquiry’s work is too important to wait. Our hearings will proceed as timetabled, however there will be some changes.
Ms Richards and I will be in the hearing room to take evidence from witnesses online. Our questioning will be just as robust, and fair, as if we were taking evidence from someone in the hearing room.
But, in keeping with the new restrictions we will not be able to welcome members of the public, and in particular people infected and affected to attend in person at Fleetbank House. I wish it were otherwise, but given the matters we are investigating we, of all people, must not contribute to the spread of the infection.
The recognised legal representative of a witness giving evidence may choose to come to Fleetbank House in person. However, other recognised legal representatives and journalists have in many cases been following proceedings remotely and we ask that their colleagues do likewise unless it is clearly essential that they be in Fleetbank House.
We will of course continue to stream the hearings on YouTube, and on the live broadcast. We are also hosting a meeting online after each week of hearings for people who would like to talk to other people infected and affected about their experience of watching those hearings. If you would like to find out more about that, please get in touch with the engagement team.
We are conscious that we must look after the wellbeing of everyone connected to the Inquiry so far as we can. So the Inquiry’s confidential psychological telephone support service will remain open to anyone who wishes to talk to them.
We will do what we can to ensure that the restrictions do not delay the progress of the Inquiry. We have announced indicative hearing weeks into spring and we will continue to announce new witnesses when they have been timetabled."