A woman whose husband and brother-in-law died after receiving contaminated blood from the NHS has spoken of her fury about former Prime Minister Sir John Major saying the victims of the scandal suffered “incredibly bad luck".
Carol Grayson, 62, from Jesmond, has spent decades campaigning for justice for the victims of the NHS treatment scandal, which killed her husband, Peter Longstaff, and brother-in-law, Stephen Longstaff.
The pair were fatally infected with HIV through the blood products they were given to treat their haemophilia.
The infection of up to 30,000 people with HIV or hepatitis C from contaminated blood has been called the biggest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
Thousands died after contaminated blood products were imported from the US in the 1970s and 1980s, often from prisoners, sex workers and drug addicts who were paid to give their blood.
Stephen Longstaff was one of the first victims to die as a result of the scandal in 1986, aged just 20, while his brother Peter spent "many years in poor health" and died in April 2005, aged 47.
During a hearing of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir John said that thousands of victims of the infected blood scandal suffered “incredibly bad luck".
Asked about one letter he wrote in November 1987, when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he described the effects of the scandal on victims as a “horror”, adding: “There’s no amount of compensation you can give that could actually compensate for what had happened to them.
“What had happened to them was incredibly bad luck – awful – and it was not something that anybody was unsympathetic to.”
However, victims have long believed the extent of the contamination scandal was covered up.
'Major must apologise'
Campaigner Carol slammed Sir John for his "outrageous" use of language which comes after she fought for the word 'inadvertent' to no longer be used in connection with the scandal.
Demanding an apology from Sir John, she said: "I was absolutely furious to hear John Major refer to the contaminated blood scandal, the infection of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitis viruses through factor concentrate treatment, as 'incredibly bad luck'.
"This is outrageous and won’t be tolerated by haemophilia campaigners fighting for truth and justice.
"The word 'inadvertent' infection was removed in 2010 as totally inappropriate and can no longer be used.
"This issue was raised by myself and fellow campaigner Colette Wintle in a meeting with Anne Milton at our Westminster meeting where we presented evidence and is minuted.
"Inadvertent means 'without intention; accidentally'. What happened to haemophiliacs was no accident and is allegedly due to the negligence of public bodies.
"Anne Milton agreed the minutes were accurate and gave permission for us to use them. She recognized the importance of a change of language, that this was needed.
"Major must apologise for his words to those infected and to affected families that have lost their loved ones."
Sir John’s comment drew angry gasps from some of those present at the inquiry.
Clive Smith, chairman of the Haemophilia Society, said in a statement: “Sir John Major’s evidence today that the suffering and death of more than 3,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders as a result of contaminated NHS treatment is ‘bad luck’ is both offensive and complacent.
“His evidence is a reminder that successive governments over the last 30 years have refused to accept responsibility for this treatment disaster – and the denial continues.
“Even now, people are still dying of infection contracted in the 1980s and they are dying without justice.
“Those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C caused by NHS-prescribed infected blood and clotting factors continue to fight for accountability, proper recognition of their suffering and compensation.”
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