Haemophiliacs refused vital information under FOI because it would cost over £600 to supply

Haemophiliacs have been told that they cannot see vital documents which could reveal how they were infected with hepatitis C through contaminated NHS blood products because it would be ‘too expensive’ to do so.

Campaigners have demanded the release of classified documents under the Freedom of Information Act but have had their request refused on the grounds of cost. The Department of Health has also claimed that some of the information has been destroyed. Under the Freedom of Information Act, requests for information can be rejected where the cost would exceed £600, but there are other ways of obtaining the information where the cost limit is reached, such as narrowing the scope of the request.

Mike Kenwright, one of the individuals infected by hepatitis C, asked for the documents and believes the files would reveal how the government failed to listen to the warnings from the USA about the dangers of using imported blood plasma products.

Peter Mossman, vice chairman of the Manor House Group, which was formed by haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C, said he was “appalled” by the failure of the Department of Health to release the documents: “I do not believe they have been destroyed. I think it is the biggest cover-up ever. What also appalls me is that they still insist they cannot have a public inquiry – it is just incredible.”

Haemophiliacs blocked in bid for secret files (Sunday Herald, 24 April 2005)