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29 September 2017

 

Patients infected through contaminated blood are pursuing legal action against the UK government after delays in a promised public inquiry.

More than 500 claimants gained permission from a court to begin proceedings on Wednesday.

The claimants are patients with haemophilia and relatives of those who have died after receiving products infected with HIV and hepatitis C during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Department of Health sought to halt the proceedings, arguing that some claimants had received settlements 20 years ago.

The claimants say that there is new and recent evidence of government negligence in the 1980s.

This was to have been investigated by the public inquiry announced by Theresa May in July – but no chair has been confirmed and its establishment has been dogged by disputes over the terms of reference, although Bishop James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, has been trying to arbitrate between the government and patients.

In court yesterday the judge Senior Master Fontaine ruled: 'It would not be sensible to delay further. The question of a public inquiry is a matter within the government’s hands.'

One of the claimants, Jason Evans, aged 28, lost his father Jonathan at the age of 31.

He said: 'He was given factor 8 intravenously. It was derived from blood plasma given by people who were paid to donate, including drug addicts and prisoners in the USA. It was all mixed together. So you only had to have one person who was infected to contaminate the batch.

'I was born in 1989. My mum and dad know they were taking a huge risk. Neither I nor my mother were infected. I remember my dad’s funeral. I knew that he had died from Aids. I was taunted at school but I really didn’t understand it at the time.

'The public inquiry needs a chair as soon as possible. At the moment nothing is happening. The Department of Health is in charge of it so there is a conflict of interest.'

 

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