High Court decides to #GivePootstheBoot

The High Court in Belfast has again ruled against the  lifetime blood ban imposed on gay and bisexual men by the Department of Health, not least on the grounds that it was irrational. The High Court found that:

The minister has decided that MSM (males who have sex with other males) behaviour creates such a high risk of infection to the donor that such donors must be permanently deferred with the result that such blood cannot enter the Northern Ireland blood stock. Importing blood from other places which do accept MSM donors, even in limited quantities, leaves the door open for MSM blood to do just that. There is clearly a defect in reason here.

According to the BBC, the High Court went further:

Dealing with the alleged breach of the ministerial code, the judge said the lifetime ban was both controversial and cross-cutting, taking in equality issues.

“As such the minister had no authority to act without bringing them to the attention of the Executive Committee which he failed to do.

“In doing so the minister breached the ministerial code and… had no legal authority to take a decision in breach of the ministerial code.”

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  • Morpheus

    How much longer must we endure this clueless idiot?

    A lady had it spot on the other night on Nolan – our politicians get elected on the back of the green/orange issue then abuse that position of authority to inflict their fundamentalist ideals on the rest of us.

  • carl marks

    Is anybody surprised (apart from the fundies) this was obvious from the beginning that Homophobia was the driving force here not science or evidence?

    Please Pootsy go now and save us all a lot of embarrassment!

  • How much longer ..

    For as long as other clueless idiots keep voting for him.
    All political parties consist of various factions and so PMs have to appoint people whom they detest to cabinet positions. Presumably Poots has backers within the DUP and so he remains a Minister even though he has shown himself to be unfit for high responsibility.

  • Ruarai

    Moving swiftly past the Minister’s fixation on the sex lives of gay men, this ruling lays down the gauntlet to the Assembly.

    As such the minister had no authority to act without bringing them to the attention of the Executive Committee which he failed to do.

    “In doing so the minister breached the ministerial code and… had no legal authority to take a decision in breach of the ministerial code.

    The judicial reprimand is one-part Poots, one-part the Stormont operation. The operation therefore has an urgent obligation to make it entirely about Poots.

    The court has revealed the Minister incompetent.

    Will this matter at Stormont?

  • sherdy

    ‘There is clearly a defect in reason here’.
    But he’s a DUP minister – could we expect anything else from him?

  • Framer

    But what should he have brought to the executive (not that he could have got agreement on it)?
    I thought what he was largely doing was not changing an existing policy which needs no actual decision.

  • Granni Trixie

    Is there not some code or other about use of public money?

  • BluesJazz

    Deja vu all over again


    I think Pete posted about this a few years back.

  • Framer,

    We only get the Judge’s decision. To be able to give a comment on what the Minister could have done, one would have to have heard all of the trial evidence. Judges aren’t stupid and it’s unreasonable to criticize them based on an article in a newspaper or blog.

  • Rory Carr

    The High Court’s consideration that Poots was guilty of a defect in reason may have the effect of causing some to conclude that Poots himself was somehow defective in reasoning. But this would only be true if indeed he actually believed in the reasoning he put forward – that refusing blood donations from men who openly declared they had sex with other men would reduce the chances for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and especially AIDS/HIV.

    However he surely knew that the blood supply that was imported was likely to contain an even greater amount of MSM donated blood. Which, I am inclined to believe, points to the real reason why Poots wished to debar homosexual males from donating blood – it was sheer vindictiveness ! He wished to punish them for being homosexual and, since there was no mechanism in law to so allow him, he has resorted to this petty, vindictive action to illustrate to like-minded folk (and, no doubt, the Lord Himself)

  • Rory Carr

    …Continued (I struck the “submit” button by accident)

    …that the mantle of Lord Protector was one he was worthy to wear.

    Websites in England are bunged up with missives from folk paranoid from fear of Islamic Sharia Law usurping the law of England while in Northern Ireland you already have a Grand Imam of fundamentalism in charge of health.

    God help ye !

  • Rapunsell

    Nevermind the science on the donation of blood from gay men, The defect in reason is so obvious and elementary that if it isn’t vindictiveness then it’s incompetence and either way Mr Poots is unfit for office – he must go. Where were the senior civil servants in the DHSSPS in all of this? What advice was given? Did they dissent? We need to know. Is there any other jurisdiction on these islands where the courts are making decisions against government ministers and their decisions where said minister remains in office?

  • Are we missing the point here?

    Poots may have prejudices and/or overindulges his denominational conscience. That is an ad-hominem issue. We can criticise, scorn, lament, but (as Mister_Joe says, above) the voters and the DUP put him there.

    However, as I read it, the High Court found Poots, as Minister, had failed in his ministerial duty. That is the ad rem matter.

    Poots’s actions must approximate to full-blown malfeasance, which — fortunately, and as I dimly recall — was defined by the House of Lords over the BCCI failure. The qualifying element are the malfeasance is (i) done by a public official; who (ii) is acting is his/her official role; and (iii) shows malicious intent and so transgresses the proper limits of those official powers.

  • Rapunsell

    If its ad hominem to point out that only an idiot would ban northern irish gay men from giving blood based on an infection risk but continue to have the nhs receive donated blood from gay men from elsewhere and not see the flawed logic then I’m happy to play the man.

    If he is happy to make this sort of decision on such obviously flawed logic what else is he doing on bigger issues in the DHSSPS?

  • Morpheus

    Making an absolute balls of elderly care for a start

  • ayeYerMa

    Rapunzel, the only “flawed logic” that I’m seeing is that you don’t seem to understand the mathematics regarding probability and risk, and that the fact that only a few small % of the blood is imported anyway.

    I just wonder what sort of understanding of science or mathematics that these judges have in calling the policy sensibly adopted across the vast majority of the western world “irrational”? Given that they seem to be obsessed over concepts such as “equality” which don’t exist in the real world then it would indicate that there isn’t a lot.

  • Rapunsell

    Aye yer Ma

    And where are the probabilities set out in the blog post, comments or linked articles? Be a good boy and gather them up and we will see who can understand them!

  • Granni Trixie

    I can honestly say that in judging a Minister I try to get beyond what I think of their party eg I think that Sammy Wilson and now Simon Hamilton are capable people to be in charge of Finances. However time and time again
    Poots demonstrates that he makes decisions based more on his personal morality than what is an informed opinion,in other words that he is professional. Advice on abortion is but one and this is another.

    I myself have been turned down for donating blood because I revealed that I have a specific condition. The reason given was that there was so little known about this particular condition (a kind of ME) that it would be too risky to take my blood. This seems reasonable to me.

    Consistent with this if I was aware of solid evidence about gay people’s blood being a higher risk than the general population I would have said thats the way it has to be however such a prohibition is perceived. Poots however has not offered any such evidence and infact sounds illogical when he tries to explain why NI is out of step with other places. I can quite see why gay people articulate a grievance but now the rest of the population are waking up to the fact that they cannot depend on this Minister to make decisions based on rationality.

  • I think based on my experiences with the American Red Cross that it isn’t so much a matter of a single minister imposing his/her beliefs as an attempt to reassure the public. I was banned from donating blood in America after a certain date a few years ago because as a soldier stationed in Germany in the early 1980s I was fed with British-supplied beef. There were some suspicions about mad-cow disease in Britain. But, and this is the telling point, the Red Cross was happy to continue to allow me to donate up until the date when some bureaucrat decided that my blood was no longer safe but would thereafter be dangerous. So probably a few decades from now the Red Cross will finally reverse itself and decide that my blood is safe after all.

    But in America so many hemophiliacs were infected with HIV-tainted blood that a lifetime ban was instituted. This was so hemophiliacs and others would feel safe using blood collected by the Red Cross.

  • Gingray

    Ah, as Mick has no opinion, this post must fail to be anti shinner enough for him to get involved. I support this overruling of the most facist minister since Moseley, but knowing how many gay folks will now realistically give blood will the effort and cost be worth the lives. Probably yes, and Poots is responsible for any harm, but given the restrictions any gay blood given is a drop in the vast vast ocean. We still need donors

  • drmisery

    Where oh where is the voice of reason Jim Wells? Perhaps he can demonstrate liberalism and tolerance when he ascends as the cream of Dup thought ( but to quote a friend of mine, its not just cream that floats.)

    If mr.poots would focus on the failing and badly run local Nhs it may be a more fruitful use of his time.

    Deflection, obfuscation . Dont look too close at the a&es and the waiting lists… it may be more useful for Camp twadell to focus on whether it is a good thing to wait 12 hours in a local casualty rather than mythical rights of entitlement

  • Delphin

    It is better to die alone in a corridor in A&E than give in to them’uns. That’s how it appears anyway.
    I thought this was part of the ‘plan’ – let the obviously incompetent tribal elders (DUP/SF) at Stormont make a complete balls of education and the health service thus forcing normal folk to take an interest in politics and get the place run properly.
    Given the much discussed disengagement with politics in NI the plan is half way there.

  • drmisery

    I must really assure you, that between the civil service and Mr.poots, healthcare in the north will remain 10 years retarded compared to England, and yet we are bleed the same, I ain’t seen any blue or green blood yet. I suppose team dup doesn’t mind as long as it’s not gay blood

  • gaygael

    So does anybody know what are the sanctions for breach of ministerial code?
    This was a resounding but unexpected victory, and Poots seems to be having a torrid time, with more to come, particularly with the ongoing abortion saga.
    He was destined to lose this yet what is frustrating, is that nobody has yet called for his resignation. From debacle, to disaster, to catastrophe, this man is not fit for office.

  • drmisery

    Who is up there? By the way I don’t agree with abortion, even though I read the guardian and support gay marriage and adoption. Now is that not classical n.i?

  • Framer

    That is a very radical judgment by Sir Seamus Treacy with dramatic extensions of duties on ministers, plus a view that the English minister, Jeremy Hunt, can do the needful. Only a summary of the judgment is available so far on the NI courts website.

    The irrationality of Poots seems only to be hinged to his non-banning of imported blood products where gay men’s blood may be included. However that is probably a very tiny proportion of the blood we use in NI and could surely be disregarded the same way as risk in the other direction is disregarded by the expert scientific evidence. (It is not yet applying in RoI or US).

    The notion that any issue with equality aspects (i.e. cross-cutting ones) must be decided by the Executive is seriously innovative and could end up with no controversial decision ever being made by a minister, and thus rarely at all.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b03d5c2q – Sunday Sequence discussion today.

  • glenda lough

    People here are very unkind to Mr Poots especially when it turns out he may be on to something. Some five years ago I had a blood transfusion for what used to be called ‘womens trouble’ and immediately afterwards developed an unnatural affection for my old friend Dorethea ‘Teacup’ Thudd. Naturally I suspect that ‘gay’ genetic material entered me as here in Irish occupied Ireland the transfusion people can be extremely throughother. However readers will be delighted to learn that I was prayed over and had hands laid on me and am now cured, praise Jesus.