Today the Inquiry was continuing to hear evidence from individuals involved with the various trusts and schemes.
Mr Mildred was the first of two witnesses to give evidence to the Inquiry today. The Inquiry heard how Mr Mildred in his employment as a solicitor gave informal legal advice to individuals regarding the various contaminated blood class actions that were taking place in the early 1990s. Mr Mildred then went onto become a Professor of Litigation at Nottingham Law School.
Mr Mildred told the Inquiry that in the summer of 2006, he saw an advert in the Law Society Gazette for a role on the Skipton Fund appeals panel. Shortly after applying, Mr Mildred was appointed to the panel.
Mr Mildred explained the role of the Skipton Fund appeals panel. Applicants appealing decisions regarding stage 1 payments would have their appeal application assessed on the balance of probabilities. For stage 2 payments, applicants appealing their refusal would be assessed on whether they had developed cirrhosis or liver cancer. Mr Mildred explained that if an applicant had developed cirrhosis or liver cancer then their stage 2 application would usually be granted by the panel. Mr Mildred stated there were fewer appeals concerning stage 2 applications.
Mr Mildred explained that if an individual wanted to appeal the terms of the appeals panel then Judicial Review action against the fund would be necessary.
Inquiry Counsel asked Mr Mildred about the appeals panel constitution. He stated that the appeals panel would submit decisions to the Skipton Fund who would then accept the appeals panel decision as final. Appeals panel members were appointed every three years.
When asked about the interaction between the Skipton Fund and the appeals panel, Mr Mildred said there were never any formal meetings between the two. Mr Mildred explained that it was often the case that the appeals panel would ask the Skipton Fund for further information about an applicant but meetings between the two parties were not conducted.
Mr Mildred was asked about applications made to the Skipton Fund by individuals that were former intravenous drug users. If the former user had been refused by the Skipton Fund, then the appeals panel would consider the reasons for refusal and make a final determination on the matter.
Inquiry Counsel then asked Mr Mildred about how the Skipton Fund was funded and whether this influenced the appeals panel decisions. The Inquiry heard how this did not influence the appeals panel decision making as they did not know how much money was being paid out by the Skipton Fund.
Concluding his evidence Mr Mildred stated that he remained a trustee of the appeals panel for 10 years until his tenure came to an end in 2016.
Charles Lister was the second witness of the day. Mr Lister was a trustee, director and then eventually the vice chair of the Caxton Foundation between 2011 and 2015. At the beginning of Mr Lister’s evidence, the Inquiry also heard how he was Head of Blood Policy at the Department of Health between 1998-2003.
Mr Lister described how in his role as trustee of the fund in 2012 he was responsible for drafting up job descriptions for trustee roles that were subject to interview that year.
Inquiry Counsel asked Mr Lister whether or not he was aware of the concerns regarding his appointment as he had previously held roles with the Department of Health and Blood Policy Unit. Mr Lister explained that this initially did not occur to him but as time went on he had to step aside from becoming involved with the foundation’s liaison committee for the Department of Health due to his past employment with them.
Mr Lister was asked about the inclusion of beneficiary trustees on the board at the Caxton Foundation and admitted that a beneficiary trustee could have been appointed. Mr Lister also added that the fear of a beneficiary trustee applying for a board position was over estimated.
Inquiry Counsel asked Mr Lister about the reserves policy of the Caxton Foundation. It was pointed out to Mr Lister that any underspend would go back to the Department of Health. Mr Lister agreed with this notion and stated that due to the Department of Health’s involvement in funding the foundation, rules regarding public spending applied.
The Inquiry would continue to hear from Mr Lister tomorrow.
The transcript of today’s evidence can be found here