The blame game in the breast implant scandal intensified yesterday as one of Britain's largest private surgery clinics defied the Government by declaring it would not replace the defective implants free of charge.

The announcement by the Harley Medical Group came as Andrew Lansley launched three separate inquiries into the debacle which has left at least 40,000 women in the UK at risk from the industrial grade silicone contained in the Poly Implant Prothese implants.

In the Commons, Mr Lansley reiterated the Government's view that private clinics had a moral duty to look after their patients.

But Mel Graham, chairman of the Harley Medical Group, said the Government had a moral responsibility to replace the PIP implants, because of a regulatory failure.

"We're only sitting here today because the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA], their own regulatory authority, has approved these implants and obviously hasn't done [the] proper checking. We're an innocent victim like everyone else, we're attempting to do our best for our patients."

Mr Lansley blamed PIP, the French manufacturer of the implants, which fooled regulators by hiding the cheap industrial silicone when inspectors came to visit.

But he announced further investigations into the the EU approval of the devices which resulted in them receiving a CE mark, the actions of the MHRA and reviews by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and the Care Quality Commission of the regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry.

Sources said Mr Lansley was dismayed at the response of the private clinics – Transform, a second private chain, has also refused to replace the implants at its own cost – and warned NHS waiting lists could rise as a result. Worried women who cannot get help from their private clinic have been told they can have the implants removed on the NHS.

A source said: "The private clinics have a duty of care to their patients, they have made a lot of money and to leave women on their own is not good enough."

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