Inquiry publishes indicative weeks for hearings and information for witnesses
We are grateful to everyone who responded to Sir Brian’s letter to core participants seeking views on the Inquiry’s proposed approach to the autumn hearings. We received a wide range of responses from people participating in the Inquiry including individual participants, recognised legal representatives, institutional core participants and people who took part in the Inquiry’s recent local meetings.
There were some common themes raised across all groups:
- the importance of these hearings for witnesses and individual participants
- agreement that the Inquiry should proceed with hearings, subject to public health considerations, rather than risk delay to its progress
- with physical attendance very likely to be limited, suggestions for enhancements to the livestream service
- psychological support to continue to be provided
- a desire that participation of the public, media and legal representatives should be facilitated to the greatest extent possible consistent with safety to health.
A number of people made practical suggestions designed to keep everyone participating safe and connected, which we will use in our planning.
We have today (Thursday 9 July) published updated information for witnesses and an updated statement of approach about the Inquiry’s approach to the questioning of witnesses. The Inquiry’s aim is that each witness is enabled to give the best evidence they can.
Wherever possible, the Chair would like witnesses to give evidence in person. The Inquiry recognises, however, that due to public health measures for coronavirus and/or because of existing health conditions, some witnesses are likely to give evidence over live video link.
There will be some space for the public and media to attend hearings, with maximum numbers determined by government guidance and public health considerations at the time. The Inquiry team will carry out and share a full risk assessment before hearings start, and will test IT for those giving evidence over live video link.
During the consultation, Scottish participants suggested holding hearings involving Scottish witnesses in Scotland to minimise travel, and the Inquiry is looking at the feasibility of this.
We can now also confirm the following indicative weeks in autumn 2020 and spring 2021 during which we intend to hold hearings. Hearings are expected to start on Tuesday 22 September. The timetable is provisional and subject to change.
Indicative weeks for hearings with haemophilia clinicians:
- week of 22 September
- week of 28 September
- week of 5 October
- week of 19 October
- week of 26 October
- week of 2 November
- week of 16 November
- week of 30 November
- week of 7 December
- week of 14 December
- week of 11 January
- week of 18 January
The Inquiry also intends to hear from the medical ethics experts during these hearings.
Indicative weeks for hearings on the Haemophilia Society
- week of 1 February
- week of 8 February
Indicative weeks for hearings on the Trusts and Schemes
- week of 22 February
- week of 1 March
- week of 8 March
Indicative week for hearings on Treloar’s
- week of 22 March
We will publish the full timetable and open registration in due course.
Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, said:
“The safety of all those participating in the Inquiry’s hearings is a priority. The pandemic imposed unusual restraints on all of us, and led inevitably to changes in the way the Inquiry has to go about its task. The contributions to our consultation have been encouraging, thoughtful and constructive, and shown the value of collecting different perspectives on how best to adapt to the challenges. Everyone who contributed really deserves my thanks - and has them.
“Consultees emphasised how important it is that the Inquiry continues to make progress. The first part of that progress will come in the autumn from clinicians working primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. I look forward to pressing on with the hearings.”