Dear Department of Health,

During the independent Archer Inquiry it became clear that a civil servant/(s) had meticulously and selectively destroyed departmental papers on the subject, clearly not a mistake. At the time it appears the Department were resistant to allowing the name of this person to be known. Will this government now make this persons name known and if not will it launch a full investigation into this very, very suspicious fact?

I enclose extracts from Lord David Owen's testimony to the Archer Inquiry below...

"""
I do not quite understand, for example, why all the names of the key people on this document are blocked out.

THE CHAIRMAN: I quite agree.

But, I mean, I do not quite understand why we are not told which civil servants made this decision to scrap all these documents.

This was not just a few documents; this was selectively going at the subject. Well, I am very against conspiracy theories, because they are usually torn out to be failures. The foul-up theory is much more frequent. But the more you look at this, the more you look at the question of what was happening in France, the more you begin to see people who were fearful of having the same legal processes going on in London and in this country,

LORD OWEN: …they tell us it was an official who did this on his own, and I think we should know who this official is and we should actually hear from him and, if he is still alive, ask him to give evidence.

"""
Yours faithfully,

JJ Evans

Do Not Reply, Department of Health and Social Care

 

Our ref: DE-1053329  

 

Dear Mr Evans,
 
Thank you for your correspondence of 4 October about the destruction of
documents and the civil servants responsible.  I have been asked to reply.

 

You requested your correspondence to be treated under the Freedom of
Information Act.  However, as your correspondence asked for general
information, rather than requesting recorded information or documentation,
on this occasion the Department has not considered your correspondence
under the provisions of the Act.

 

I note your concerns about there being a Departmental cover-up through the
destruction of documents that were related to the infection of people
through NHS supplied blood or blood products.   I would like to assure you
that this is not the case. 

 

As you are aware, regrettably, a number of documents were inadvertently
destroyed some years ago, and this was covered in some detail in Lord
Archer’s report.  However, it is important to note that Lord Archer also
made clear that his inquiry “discovered no evidence of malicious
destruction of relevant records”.

 

It is likely that the Department will not ever know the exact
circumstances that led to these papers being destroyed, or what was in
them.  Despite what some individuals may claim, there is no evidence that
there was any systematic or selective attempt to destroy these records. 
Given that the Department does not have a member of staff that has direct
knowledge of these events from the 1970s/80s, it does not believe that an
investigation would provide any additional insight, or justify the expense
and use of resources that the investigation would require.

 

As you may be aware, the Department has published all relevant information
that it holds on blood safety, in line with the Freedom of Information
(FOI) Act 2000.  This includes more than 5,500 papers from 1970 to 1985,
which have been published on the Department’s website, and more than 200
files of additional documents from 1986 to 1995, which are available
through the National Archive.  Copies of these documents are available to
the public at the links below:

 

[1]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u...

 

[2]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u...

 

[3]http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk...

 

Documents from more than 30 years ago are already a matter of public
record and further releases will be made, as appropriate under the
relevant rules.

 

With regard to the identification of civil servants in documents released
to the public domain, the Government does not provide names of officials
below Senior Civil Service (SCS) level.  Personal data about officials
below SCS level is exempt from disclosure pursuant to section 40(2) of the
FOI Act, which provides for the protection of personal information which
would not otherwise be available in the public domain, as disclosing this
information would contravene data protection principles.  Therefore, the
Department does not have any plans to make public the identity of junior
officials involved in this matter.

 

I hope this reply is helpful.

Yours sincerely,
 
Sherifa Rahman
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health

 

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