Contaminated blood inquiry told ‘hierarchy of victims’ created by government

A man who contracted hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood has told a public inquiry into the scandal that the failure by governments to provide equal financial support across the UK has created a "hierarchy of victims".

Nigel Hamilton from Co Antrim is one of thousands of people who received infected blood in the 1970s and 1980s.

On the third day of the inquiry sitting in Belfast, he said it was shameful that victims in Northern Ireland have been treated differently.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing crisis is currently preventing enhanced support payments being offered to people living with the consequences of contaminated blood treatment in the region.

“If I lived in England, the recognition of my victimhood would be different but in Northern Ireland like those in Scotland and Wales, all victims of this same national health service disaster, appear not worthy of equal financial support during the lifetime of this inquiry,” he said.

“That’s a sad reflection on a government which has now created a hierarchy of victims under the pretence of it being a devolved matter, that to me as an act is reprehensible.”

It is thought around 5,000 people died after receiving contaminated blood across the UK , while many more were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C in what has been described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Among those who've told their accounts to inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff in Belfast include one survivor who spoke publicly for the first time, and another who told the judge that his fellow victims have waited 40 years to be heard.

The inquiry has already sat in central London and will later move to Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff.