Russell Mishcon’s Evidence
Mr Russell Mishcon was the first witness of the week to provide oral evidence to the Inquiry. Mr Mishcon was a Trustee of the Macfarlane Trust (MFT) between 2006 and 2014 and also a Trustee of the Eileen Trust between 2007 and 2018. Mr Mishcon spoke of himself having a serious blood condition and having several blood transfusions in the 1950’s and 60’s but was fortunate enough not to have been infected but became a Trustee because he felt that he had some knowledge of the subject matter.
Mr Mishcon discussed several topics put to him by Jenni Richards QC over the course of his evidence and these included:
- Ms Richards questioned Mr Mishcon on the relationship that the MFT had with the Department of Health (DoH). Mr Mishcon felt that the DoH clearly influenced what MFT could do by the level of funding they provided. He spoke of a concern of his being that the position MFT were in was contrary to Charity Guidelines because of the way the charity was funded by the DoH.
- Mr Mishcon responded to questions relating to the MFT’s ability to fundraise and he believed that the MFT did have the power to fundraise but there was always felt to be a practical restraint that the DoH could reduce the funding they provided to MFT if they successfully fundraised. Mr Mishcon’s view was that it was also within MFT’s powers to participate in campaigning and he personally was very much in favour of this. He felt that it was one of the ways that the MFT could increase their profile and for the public to be made aware of how the beneficiary community were having to live. He described the Board’s reluctance to participate in campaigning and that they felt that it was the Haemophilia Society’s role.
- Ms Richards posed questions to Mr Mishcon relating to his January 2014 letter to express concern over the annual allocation of funds being reduced for the Macfarlane Trust. He wished to clarify some points that Mr Evans had made during his oral evidence. Mr Evans implied that Mr Mishcon had drafted the letter with at least one other Trustee and Mr Mishcon confirmed that this was not the case. He introduced the letter during ‘Any Other Business’ because there was no other place during the meeting where Mr Mishcon could have brought up the draft letter. It was also a draft letter and certainly not a final letter that needed to be signed by the Board there and then.
- Mr Mishcon was a member of a Working Party for widows and bereaved partners. During his evidence Mr Mishcon said that there was certainly a view on his part that widows were not supported properly and that there should have been more support in place but the limited funds that the DoH provided to the MFT made this difficult.
- Mr Mishcon spoke of how the DoH decided to distribute funds to beneficiaries through the MFT which was set up as a charity. The Trust deeds were very strict, and every decision the Trustees were able to make in respect of beneficiaries had to go back to financial need. Mr Mishcon spoke of his belief that the Government should have been made to give financial support to beneficiaries directly rather than setting up the MFT which was essentially a barrier between the beneficiary and the Government. This enabled the Government to be a step removed from the beneficiaries.
For a full transcript of Russell Mishcon’s evidence please visit https://www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk/evidence where you can read the transcript or watch the evidence via YouTube video.