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Groups representing hundreds who suffered serious illness – and lost loved ones after having Covid-19 vaccines - to give evidence at Public Inquiry

Three groups representing hundreds of people who suffered ill health – and families who lost loved ones after having Covid-19 vaccinations – have been granted status to give evidence at the Public Inquiry examining the UK’s response to and impact of the pandemic.

UK CV Family, Vaccine Injured Bereaved UK (VIBUK) and the Scottish Vaccine Injury Group, which collectively have more than 1,500 members, have each been granted Core Participant Status at the ongoing hearing.

It means they will give evidence to the inquiry as part of a section dedicated to investigating a range of issues relating to the development, implementation and uptake of the vaccine rollout programme.

It will see ‘issues of recent public concern relating to vaccine safety’ and the current system for financial redress under the Government’s UK Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme explored in hearings next year, chaired by Appeal Judge Baroness Heather Hallett.

The groups are being represented by Hudgell Solicitors, who will attend a preliminary hearing on Wednesday (September 13th) alongside instructed counsel Anna Morris KC of Garden Court North Chambers.

Attending on behalf of the three groups will be Charlet Crichton and Caroline Pover, founding members of UK CV Family, Kate Scott and Charlotte Wright, of VIBUK and Alex Mitchell, Louise Whitford and John Watt of the Scottish Vaccine Injury Group.

Inquiry will allow vaccine injured to ‘share stories and call for change’

Terry Wilcox, Solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors, who has represented families at the recent Manchester Arena Inquiry and subpostmasters at the ongoing Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, said: “These are groups of people who had a Covid-19 vaccine to protect themselves during the pandemic, and who, unfortunately, have suffered serious ill health since.

“Some people have sadly died due to complications; deaths which have been recognised by medical professionals and the courts, to have been caused by the complications linked to the vaccines.

“The development and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines was of course crucial in helping the world emerge from the pandemic and to return to the normality we again enjoy today, but it is only right and proper that this inquiry fully explores the cases where vaccine damage has led to life-changing situations.

Neil Hudgell, owner and executive chairman of Hudgell Solicitors said, “When we were first approached to represent these groups of people we felt it only right to support them by applying for them to have a voice at this inquiry and to be given core participant status We are glad that permission has now been granted as this is the right platform for them to share their stories and call for change.

“Until now, many have felt ignored as they have struggled to get medical, practical, emotional, and financial support for life-changing conditions that began shortly after vaccination. Their stories are important and need to be heard.”

Lessons to be learned’

Charlet Crichton founder of UK CV Family, says the group are hoping their involvement will lead to improved support for people who suffer adverse reactions to vaccines in the future.

She said: “All of our members took at least one vaccine, having been told repeatedly by the government that in doing so we would not only be protecting ourselves from ill health, but also protecting the vulnerable members of our society.

“We took the vaccine in good faith, assuming that should any adverse reactions arise, we would be looked after in the same vein as we were looking after our fellow citizens. Instead, we have experienced the opposite — lack of medical knowledge and help, a lack of compassion and understanding, lack of financial recompense, and a lack of support.

“There is also a stigma attached to being vaccine-injured that has no place in modern Britain. In order to rebuild trust from the general public, which is vital in the event of future health crises, this country urgently needs to have an effective and compassionate means of medically, practically, financially, and emotionally supporting the vaccine injured.

“We appreciate Baroness Hallett and the Inquiry for including us in the proceedings. We hope that by giving our evidence, the government will learn from our situation and make improvements for those who may suffer adverse reactions from vaccination in the future.”

Current damages scheme ‘not fit for purpose’

Sheila Ward, of Vaccine Injured Bereaved UK (VIBUK) hopes the inquiry will lead to a complete overhaul of the Government’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme, which the group says has proved ‘not fit for purpose’.

Her husband Stephen, 57, died in March 2021 due to blood clotting and bleeding on the brain. An inquest subsequent found he had died as a result of complication of medical vaccination.

She said: “It is an uncomfortable truth for many, but vaccine injury and death are very sadly part of the pandemic story. Our members have medical notes, official diagnoses, death certificates and coroners’ verdicts which categorically state that the Covid vaccine was to blame.

“The ill-health suffered as a result of vaccinations by our members has been devastating, life-changing and heart-breaking, and this scheme simply doesn’t provide the level of compensation people need when they have been left either too ill to work, or having lost a loved one.

“People are not being given enough support to rebuild and adapt to how their lives have been forever changed. The payments offered often don’t even cover the losses of earnings and income, even before extra medical requirements and things like home adaptations are considered. Hopefully this inquiry can lead to a scheme which is fit for purpose, as the current one is certainly not.”

‘Abandoned as the world has moved on’

Ruth O’Rafferty, one of the founding members of the Scottish Vaccine Injury Group, said the group represents not only Covid-19 vaccine injured, but also Covid-19 vaccine bereaved.

“Our members have not only suffered the massive loss either of a loved one, their health, livelihood, freedom and for some their future, but in addition they have faced disbelief, incredulity and even been ostracised and silenced, so to have their voices heard at a statutory inquiry will hopefully be the first step in a long overdue healing process. 

“They have had to fight to have a voice, advocate for themselves over and over again and still, many are no better. They did what they were told was necessary for everyone’s good. Now the world has moved on and they feel abandoned. 

“It is our hope that we will not only be actively listened to, but that the inquiry makes recommendations to radically change the way we are viewed by the public, mainstream media and medical professionals, and that its eventual conclusions lead to easier access to timely medical diagnosis and treatment of vaccine injury, desperately needed psychological and financial support, and an end to gas-lighting.

“We are grateful to Baronness Hallet for the opportunity to have core participant status and hope the evidence we bring to the table will help avoid repeated pain and suffering in the future, as well as lead to more streamlined and cost-effective policies.”