Infected Blood Inquiry opens registration for attending hearings and releases guidance on how witnesses will be questioned

The Infected Blood Inquiry has opened registration for hearings at which people infected and affected will give their personal testimony. Hearings will take place from 30 April in London, Belfast, Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

The Inquiry has also published guidance that outlines how witnesses will be questioned during the hearings. The vast majority of the questioning will be undertaken by Counsel to the Inquiry and witnesses. Recognised legal representatives of core participants will support Counsel by suggesting issues or points to raise with a witness.

There may be occasions, in very particular circumstances, where the Chair permits other legal representatives to ask questions they do not feel have been sufficiently covered. The Chair is only likely to permit such questioning if he considers that a point has not been raised and is worth raising, or has not been sufficiently addressed by questions. If questioning by the recognised legal representative of a core participant is permitted, there will be a time limit and questioning will be limited to the point for which permission has been granted.

The Chair is selecting witnesses according to criteria that will ensure that at each set of hearings evidence is given covering a range of conditions, sources of infection and time periods, to help get to the truth of what happened.

Each day and week of the inquiry will be of equal importance. The Inquiry expects to publish the first schedule of witnesses giving oral evidence in London in April and a list of witnesses for other venues to be published a few weeks ahead of those hearings.

While witnesses and immediate family and supporters will be given priority to attend the hearings, the Inquiry has opened registration early to allow people to register for dates and venues they already know they wish to attend.

The Inquiry has offered to pay travel expenses for people infected and affected attending their local hearing. Requests to travel to another venue will also be considered if there are special circumstances. The Inquiry can authorise overnight accommodation where it is deemed not reasonable to expect someone to travel to a hearing on the day. Further information about expenses is available here.

For those who cannot attend in person, the hearings will be available to watch online and transcripts will be published on the Inquiry website at the end of each day.

The form for registering interest in attending can be found here.

If you have any concerns around hepatitis C and infected blood, The Hepatitis C Trust’s confidential helpline is open Monday-Friday from 10.30am-4.30pm and is staffed solely by people who have themselves been affected by hepatitis C. You can call the helpline on 020 7089 6221. Alternatively, you can email helpline@hepctrust.org.uk.