TRANSPARENCY is a word that strikes fear and trepidation into the UK civil service. This is evidenced by the strenuous efforts by senior Whitehall bureaucrats to draw the teeth of the Freedom of Information Act.

Years ago I attended a lecture by Tony Benn, former cabinet minister, and his theme was the defence of democracy. In answer to one of my questions from the floor he said: “The Government wants to know all about you but doesn’t want you to know anything about them.”

This is perhaps an over-simplification but history shows that we struggle to find out what really happened when things go seriously wrong and some or all of the blame can be laid at the door of what is generally referred to as “the establishment”.

It took 28 years to bring charges against the police and others that are at last being called to account for their actions leading up to the Hillsborough football stadium disaster.

It was only very recently that an investigation was announced by Downing Street into the contaminated blood affair. This is almost certainly the worst scandal to have ever affected the NHS and there have been many NHS scandals. It is estimated that 2,400 NHS patients died from HIV and hepatitis C when they were transfused with contaminated blood. Some of this blood came from the USA where donor controls were far too lax. The lethal blood supplies were imported not only by the NHS but into other countries too.

However, only the NHS has been reluctant to take any investigative or punitive action.

In France, in the 1990s, a health minister, Edmond Herve, was convicted of manslaughter for his part in allowing the use of the contaminated blood. Our Government has only just started to investigate in order to possibly identify the politicians and civil servants at fault here. Should the investigation identify those to blame, there is every chance that they have probably taken their reward from the Honours List many years ago and begun enjoying a gold-plated pension.

About now, Sir Martin Moore-Bick will be starting to take the evidence gathered for the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster. His appointment was greeted with dismay by the survivors of the inferno, probably because he was seen to be too closely associated with the establishment. His declaration that he intends to restrict his inquiry to quite a narrow field and not delve into matters touching on the wider issues of social housing did not go down too well with those that have lost so much because of the failures of others.

The police have taken the unusual step of announcing that their investigation is pointing towards there being the strong probability of corporate manslaughter charges being brought.

But this is only part of the story that needs to be placed into the public eye by Sir Martin. However, this will be a challenge to his diligence and integrity.

We can be sure that the lawyers and bureaucrats will be working hard in Whitehall to cobble together a defence to the indefensible. Their brief will almost certainly be to deflect any blame or criticism towards others. I am certain there is a case for the Government to answer but will Sir Martin succeed in bringing those politicians and civil servants to book for their part in causing the 80 deaths?

Watch for the Department for Communities and Local Government arguing that the building regulations are fine but it was the interpretation and enforcement of them by many of the English local authorities that caused the problem.