Infected blood scandal: Jesmond woman describes 'devastating' deaths of husband and brother-in-law

04.04.23 Carol and Peter Grayson Credit: Carol Grayson
Carol Grayson said the deaths of her husband, Peter, and brother-in-law, Stephen, as a result of being given infected blood, have been 'devastating.' Credit: Family photo

A woman whose husband and brother-in-law died after being given contaminated blood vows to continue her campaign for justice.

Carol Grayson, a writer from the Jesmond area of Newcastle, is one of many family members affected by the infected blood scandal. Today, an independent inquiry has published its second interim report, in which it recommends a £100,000 payment to recognise the deaths of people "as yet unrecognised" and to help "alleviate immediate suffering".

Carol's husband, Peter, was given a treatment called factor concentrates for his haemophilia - an inherited bleeding disorder. His brother, Stephen, also received the same treatment.

During the 1970s and 1980s blood donations were often imported from the US from the highest risk donors, including US prisoners, drug users, sex workers, gay men and “skid -row” donors.

Stephen subsequently died of AIDS in 1986 at 20-years of age.

Peter later died in 2005 aged 47.

Stephen Grayson (left) died of AIDS in 1986 and Peter Grayson (right) died in 2005 after both receiving infected blood. Credit: Carol Grayson

Their father, Arnold Grayson, had a heart attack and died at 58 when campaigning for justice in the 1990s.

Ms Grayson, 63, said her father-in-law was very brave as he was one of the first parents to go on record regarding the blood scandal in a documentary at a time when discrimination was rife and their home was daubed with abusive anti-AIDS slogans.

She said: "They were utterly broken having watched their youngest son die in the most horrific of circumstances and fearing their oldest son would soon follow.

"The impact on our family has been devastating. I could not have children due to the risk from Pete of infecting a baby although I myself am not infected.

"I gave up my career to become a long term carer to Pete which impacted on my own health, physically and psychologically. It's been a very long fight for justice."

Ms Grayson set up Haemophilia Action UK in 1994 after her husband, Peter, discovered he had been infected with hepatitis C as well as HIV. Credit: Carol Grayson

Ms Grayson was awarded the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice."

She also set up Haemophilia Action UK in 1994 after her husband discovered he had been infected with hepatitis C, HIV, hepatitis B and exposed to CJD.

Before his death, Peter traced his batch number back to donors at US prisons, including a named infected donor with HIV at Arkansas penitentiary.

In the early 2000s, Ms Grayson and her husband took their case against four pharmaceutical companies to the US in the second generation “dumped treatment” cases - products rejected as not fit for use in the US due to safety issues.

Ms Grayson said: "The pharmas officially accepted him legally and others that joined on to our case.

"After Pete died I wrote my dissertation on the infected blood scandal critiquing the “definitive” government report using copies of incriminating documents I discovered and that the government had destroyed.

"The report was withdrawn on my evidence."

Ms Grayson said her message is very clear and added: "The government must apologise for dumped treatment being used on our haemophiliacs that violated all our own UK safety standards.

"I am a Core Participant in this Infected Blood Inquiry and have worked day and night for four years to scan and submit key documents for the Chair Sir Brian Langstaff and his team of investigators and as well as submitting written statements, I also gave oral evidence."

Carol Grayson has campaigned for years and is seeking an official apology from the UK government for importing and using contaminated blood. Credit: Credit: Carol Grayson

Commenting on the latest interim report, Ms Grayson said: "From what I have read so far, there are many positive aspects from Sir Brian Langstaff and I thank him for his recommendations and compassion for those infected and affected.

"It is a relief that the multiple losses and extreme pain and suffering of the haemophilia community are recognised and that it is noted that infections should and could have been avoided.

"I am happy that my promise to Pete, my beloved husband and soulmate to “deal with unfinished business” has now been honoured."

The Infected Blood Inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal was set up following an announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017.

In a statement to Parliament at the time, Mrs May described the scandal as ‘an appalling tragedy which should simply never have happened’. 

The Inquiry examined why men, women and children in the UK were given infected blood and/or infected blood products; the impact on their families; how the authorities (including government) responded; the nature of any support provided following infection; questions of consent; and whether there was a cover-up.

The inquiry officially got underway on 2 July 2018 and evidence hearings from those infected and affected began in April 2019.

The inquiry evidence sessions ended on 3 February 2023 and the inquiry's second interim report was published today (4 April) by The Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...