The inquiry into contaminated blood will establish the truth of what happened, its chair promised yesterday.
The inquiry has been established to investigate claims of official neglect underlying the use of contaminated blood supplies last century.
This led to thousands being infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses.
Inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff has adopted wide-ranging terms of reference, he informed the government in a letter yesterday.
He said it will take up to three years to reach his conclusions.
The inquiry plans public and private hearings and will use legal powers to summon witnesses.
He said: "What is difficult to comprehend is the sheer scale of what happened. The numbers of people, both adults and children, from all walks of life, who were infected by Hepatitis viruses, or HIV, from clotting factor or transfused blood runs into thousands.
"This may have happened principally in the 1970s and 1980s but the consequences persist today with people continuing to feel the mental, physical, social, work-related and financial effects.
"I aim to put the people who have been infected and affected at the heart of this inquiry. I am determined to get to the truth and where necessary will use the inquiry's power to compel witnesses to explain their actions."
His plans were welcomed by the Haemophilia Society.
Chief executive Liz Carroll said: “With this announcement of the Terms of Reference, the way is now clear for the Inquiry to begin and justice to finally be served.
“The final terms of reference appear to cover all the essential elements and areas of investigation that our members wanted to see. As the Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, said they do set out a road map for the inquiry to proceed along. This Inquiry has been a long time coming and The Society is committed to seeking the truth and will not rest until justice is achieved for all.”
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