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Friday, 19 October 2018

Minister apologises after blood inquiry retention notice email fails to send

Written by Harriet Line

A minister has apologised after an email telling Government departments not to destroy any documents relevant to the Infected Blood Inquiry failed to send.

David Lidington said no "material damage" had resulted from the administrative error and that his officials had provided a "detailed explanation" to the inquiry.

The Cabinet Office Minister, who admitted the mistake in a written ministerial statement, said an email containing a retention notice did not reach its recipients because of a failure in the IT address used.

He apologised for the error, saying: "I can reassure the public that this has resulted in no actual harm, but it is an error for which I apologise to the Inquiry, and most importantly, to the people infected and affected."

Mr Lidington (pictured) explained: "Cabinet Office official circulated a Government-wide notice on 3rd April this year, instructing departments to preserve all information relevant to the Infected Blood Inquiry. A further, more comprehensive message was issued to departments by Cabinet Office on 11th June.

"However, following a query from the Inquiry about the notice, Cabinet Office officials discovered that the 3rd April email containing the retention notice did not reach its recipients, due to the failure of the collective IT address used.

"My officials have provided a detailed explanation to the Inquiry which will be published on the Inquiry's website."

The minister added: "The Department of Health and Social Care put in place a moratorium on the destruction of historical records as soon as the Inquiry was announced in July 2017."

Mr Lidington said all relevant departments and areas within departments have worked urgently to confirm that they have not destroyed any relevant documents during the period between April 3 and June 11.

The inquiry will consider the treatment of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV, and the impact this had on their families.

It will also examine whether there has been any attempt to cover up the scandal.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) David Mirzoeff / PA Wire.