‘There has been a criminal cover-up of major proportion’

Blood on their Hands Contamination Scandal
Blood on their Hands Contamination Scandal
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All this week, the Lancashire Post has been running the series Blood On Their Hands looking at the contaminated blood scandal which left thousands of NHS patients with HIV and hepatitis C after they were given tainted blood.

READ MORE: 'Tainted blood has ruined my life'
Today, AASMA DAY talks to campaigners about why they believe an inquiry into the scandal is long overdue and why truth and justice is needed.

Andy Burnham - Greater Manchester Mayor

Andy Burnham - Greater Manchester Mayor

READ MORE: ‘We feel our dad was murdered by the state’
Andy Burnham - Greater Manchester Mayor

People do not realise the full scale of injustice those affected by the contaminated blood scandal have suffered.

“When that does happen, I think the country will come together and demand justice for them.”That’s the view of Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor and former Leigh MP who is one of the politicians involved in getting the Government to commit to an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal.

The former health secretary also says there has been a “criminal cover-up of major proportions” and says there is evidence to show blood products were given to patients despite the risks being known.

Mr Burnham says: “All politicians and all parties have let these people down.

“The onus is on Parliament to move this inquiry on as speedily as possible.

“But that does not seem to be happening.

“I understand that things need to be done properly.

“Things have moved forward but it is pretty glacial and the do seem to be dragging their feet.

“The breakthrough of an inquiry is welcomed - but we are losing people all the time and that is heartbreaking.

“The Government is so obsessed with everything to do with Brexit, they are not helping these people who have waited so long for them to focus on their situation.

“It is encouraging that we have a head of the inquiry and I would appeal for him to move with speed.“There is so much that is known about this scandal that it now needs to be made official.

“I think there has been a criminal cover-up of major proportions.

“There is plentiful evidence of people’s medical notes going missing or indeed being falsified.

“It is a massive thing that has huge implications and I believe this inquiry can quickly get to the truth.

“A lot of the crux of the matter is that blood products were knowingly given even though people knew about the risks.

“There was then subsequently a cover-up once problems emerged.

“I think the inquiry can quickly get to the evidence in that area if they listen to the experts.

“Time is of the essence as this happened in the late 70s and 80s and some people have fought all their lives.

“I think truth and justice are on the horizon and I hope they live to see that.

“Similar to Hillsborough, the country does not yet understand the full scale of injustice.

“When that does happen, I think the country will come together and demand justice for them.

“I think the support will be massive for those affected when people realise the true extent of what happened and the cover-up.”

Tainted blood

The contaminated blood scandal has already claimed the lives of 2,400 people and another 60 infected people have died since Theresa May announced the inquiry last July.

Su Gorman from the campaign group TaintedBlood for infected haemophiliacs and their families, says: “This inquiry needs to be speeded up before more people die.

“There is a real feeling among the affected community that the Government has been dragging its heels for years.

“If all the primary victims are dead, then there will be no evidence from people who can say: ‘This happened to me’ and the evidence becomes anecdotal.

“People also feel that if more victims die before the inquiry is concluded, then less compensation will need to be paid out.

“The victims and their families have been fighting for justice for decades and there are people dying in poverty.

“We want to see the process speeded up and for people to receive a public apology and vindication they did nothing wrong.

“People want enough of their lives left to walk away and not be a campaigner for the rest of their days.

“They want answers and a decent standard of living that they could have expected if these illnesses through no fault of their own had not stopped them working.

“It has has happened too often that the Government make the right noises so people think the matter is done and dusted then they do nothing.

“They have been torturing us like this for years.

“It seems the Government at the time knew about some of the risks and decided not to acknowledge them.

“This means they have blood on their hands and hopefully this inquiry will look at the evidence to prove this.”

Cat Smith - MP Lancaster And Fleetwood

“Last month I spoke in the House of Commons during an urgent question about the setting-up of the inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal.

“The Prime Minister first committed to an inquiry on July 11, 2017. But it took almost seven months from then to appoint a judge to lead the inquiry and make progress in setting the Terms of Reference.

“The Government still needs to commit to providing an inquiry that puts ‘families first’ and closely engages with those affected by the tragedy.

“We do not want to see a repeat of the problems we have had with other inquiries, such as Grenfell.

“We also want the inquiry to investigate the aftermath of the scandal, including the allegations of a criminal cover-up, rather than just the events leading up to infections.

“The tragedy is this inquiry will come too late for some campaigners who have died as a result of contaminated blood and that is why families of victims must also be heard in this inquiry.

“I hope that we are now closer to justice and that the inquiry makes sure that the victims have trust in justice being done.”

Blood inquiry

• Prime Minister Theresa May announced there would be a full inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal last July.

• High Court Judge Mr Justice Langstaff has been appointed as chairman of the inquiry. He will be the full time chairman of the inquiry from May 1 following his retirement from the High Court. However, he will use the intervening period before then to conduct a further consultation on the Inquiry’s terms of reference.

• The inquiry is a statutory inquiry into the infected blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s. Mr Justice Langstaff will be conducting a consultation on the terms of reference in the intervening period before his retirement. He will make a recommendation to the Minister for the Cabinet Office. The Minister will return to Parliament with the final terms of reference as soon as this process has been completed.

• It will start formally as soon as the Terms of Reference are set. The Chairman will be consulting those most affected to ensure their views are reflected in the Terms of Reference.

• The inquiry will be publicly funded. It will be report to the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster. Government will make sure that money is available for legal support so that all victims and families who wish to take part in the inquiry will receive support and assistance to do so.

• The chairman will determine who to call to give evidence. Under the Inquiries Act, the chairman has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath and to call for papers - including Government papers.

• Government Ministers and officials will be co-operating fully with the inquiry and will give evidence if asked. All relevant papers will be submitted to the inquiry.

• The Inquiries Act requires the sponsoring Minister in the Cabinet Office to inform Parliament about who will chair the inquiry and its terms of reference. The chair will provide their report to the sponsoring Minister in the Cabinet Office who will then lay it before Parliament.