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Britain’s infected blood victims to get £210,000 interim payment

The first victims of the infected blood scandal will receive their final compensation payment before the end of the year, Cabinet Office minister John Glen has said.

In a statement given to the House of Commons, Mr. Glen said the payments would be exempt from income, capital gains, and inheritance tax.

Those affected by the scandal will also receive further interim payments of £210,000 ahead of the establishment of the final scheme.

The interim payments will be delivered within 90 days, starting in the summer, so that they can “reach those who need it so urgently the most”.

More than 30,000 people were infected with deadly viruses between the 1970s and early 1990s as they received blood transfusions or blood products while receiving NHS care.

On Monday, the long-awaited Infected Blood Inquiry’s report concluded that tens of thousands of patients were “knowingly exposed to unacceptable risks of infection” with “shattering” impacts on their lives.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a “wholehearted and unequivocal” apology to the victims on Monday, saying the publication of the report into the disaster was “a day of shame for the British state”.

Addressing MPs on Tuesday, Mr Glen confirmed that anyone who was infected or affected as a result of the scandal would receive compensation.

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“To be crystal clear, if you have been directly or indirectly infected by NHS blood, blood products or tissue contaminated with HIV or hepatitis C, or have developed a chronic infection from blood contaminated with hepatitis B, you will be eligible to claim compensation under the scheme,” he said.

“And where an infected person has died, but would have been eligible under these criteria, compensation will be paid to their estate. And this will include where a person was infected with hepatitis B and died during the acute period of infection.”

He added that these awards would be offered either in a lump sum or periodical payments.

The compensation will be administered by the Infected Blood Compensation Authority, an arms length body.

Sir Robert Francis, a British barrister and specialist in medical law, will act as interim chair of the organisation.

Responding to Mr Glen’s speech, shadow minister without portfolio Nick Thomas-Symonds urged the Government to ditch a culture of “institutional defensiveness” and embrace “openness and transparency”.

He said: “One of the most powerful conclusions in this report is that an apology is only meaningful if it is accompanied by action.”

Law firm Leigh Day, which represents 300 victims of the infected blood scandal at the Infected Blood Inquiry, said it would weigh up the potential for civil legal action following the Government’s announcement.

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Gene Matthews, who represents clients considering a legal action, said: “Although the appointment of Sir Robert Francis as the interim chair of the arms-length compensation body is very welcome, it is disappointing the at the government did not take up his recommendations for a compensation scheme more than a year ago.

“We will be considering the terms of the compensation scheme before we can make any recommendations to our clients in terms of their options for possible legal action.”

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