North East contaminated blood victims awaiting justice amid delay-hit inquiry

  • Watch Helen Ford's report.

Two North East men affected by the infected blood scandal want those responsible to be held to account.

An estimated 30,000 people received infected blood products in the 1970s and 80s while being treated for conditions like haemophilia - a hereditary condition which means a person's blood does not clot in the same way it normally would.

The inquiry into the scandal was due to release its final report in Autumn last year which was then delayed until March this year (2024)

The final report will now not be published until May.

Richard Newton's brother Mark died aged 24 after contracting HIV from infected blood. He would have turned 60 this year.

Mr Newton told ITV Tyne Tees: "For me, the important thing is accountability. It's not about compensation, it's not about money although it would be nice to be compensated.

"The main thing for me is justice for my family. People within government or different departments within government being held accountable for the wrongdoings to my family."

Mark Fox, of Seaham, was infected with Hepatitis C as a child and says what happened to him has left him with a lifetime of health issues.

He wants to see the blood scandal given the same attention as the post office scandal which received renewed interest after ITV drama Mr Bates Vs the Post Office.

He told ITV Tyne Tees: "There's so much to try and figure out so we're still learning now, so it's hard for the public to realise how severe this has been but no matter where this comes from, this should never have happened.

"People have lost children and children have lost parents well before their time and for no fault of their own just because they were going to the hospital to get treatment to make them better again".

Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of the inquiry, said: "I am acutely aware of the need for the report to be available as soon as possible.

"When I reviewed the plans for publication, I nonetheless had to accept that a limited amount of further time is needed to publish a report of this gravity and do justice to what has happened."

He added: "The Inquiry's final recommendations on compensation were published in April 2023. My principal recommendation remains that a compensation scheme should be set up with urgency.

"No-one should be in any doubt about the serious nature of the failings over more than six decades that have led to catastrophic loss of life and compounded suffering."

The inquiry team say the report will set out and explain the failings at systemic, collective and individual levels.

A government spokesperson said: "This was an appalling tragedy, and our thoughts remain with all those affected.

“We are clear that justice needs to be delivered for the victims and have already accepted the moral case for compensation.

“This covers a set of extremely complex issues, and it is right we fully consider the needs of the community and the far-reaching impact that this scandal has had on their lives.

“As such, the Government intends to respond in full to Sir Brian’s recommendations for wider compensation following the publication of the inquiry’s final report."

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