Tainted blood inquiry: Campaigners angry at lack of apology from former Health Minister

Campaigners from the contaminated blood inquiry are disappointed that former Health Minister Ken Clarke hasn't apologised for the government's handling of the scandal.

Between the 1970s and 80s, clotting Factor Eight was given to thousands of people after being sourced from high-risk donors such as prisoners and drug addicts.

Consequently, 4,689 people were infected with HIV and Hepatitis and 2,944 have died since then.

Lord Clarke, who served as the health minister at the time of the scandal, was quoted in a press release in September 1983 as saying "It has been suggested that AIDS may be transmitted in blood or blood products."

"There is no conclusive proof", he said, "that this is so."

Speaking at the inquiry he said: "Seems to me having looked at these documents, the 'no conclusive proof' phrase - these three words are taken out as though they're loaded with significance - the phrase 'no conclusive proof is' is a perfectly accurate description of the then medical opinion."

Mel McKay, who is from Sheffield and was infected when she was a child, said: "He's not given any remorse to any of us that's been infected or affected by this inquiry."

She added: "It hurts, and it's upsetting. We've lost too many people, we're still losing friends and loved ones and too many people are still dying."

Clive Smith, from the Haemophilic society, said: "His evidence makes up a piece of the jigsaw, it's an important piece of the jigsaw but there are lots of other pieces of the jigsaw that can still be put together.

"There's documentary evidence, there's other evidence from other witnesses who we've already heard, and what we hope is there is enough evidence there are enough pieces of the jigsaw that can be put together so we can get a reliable picture of what happened at the time, we can understand what went wrong and learn lessons for the future and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Lord Clarke said in his closing remarks: "I'm sorry 30 or 40 years later they're having such difficulties in living with the consequences for them and their families of the tragedy, and campaigning I suspect is something of an outlet for their feelings about this disaster that struck them or someone they've lost."

He also told ITV News that he and his colleagues acted on "the best medical advice available to us at the time."

The inquiry will now break for the summer.