Deceived public in parliamentary debate on bad blood 2015, too little too late
For the first time in my life I felt totally disengaged from the General Elections. This was due to my spending a considerable amount of time and savings going up and down to Westminster for over 2 decades fighting for justice for victims of what is labelled by Lord Winston as “the worst medical treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” the contamination of haemophiliacs with deadly viruses through US prison blood.
In other words around 4,500 NHS patients (mostly males with some females) were infected with HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) through being injected with factor 8 concentrates for a condition where their blood does not clot. Some partners of haemophiliacs were also infected.
Through years of investigation (which resulted in 2 awards, one for research, one for upholding truth and justice) I discovered both the British government and US pharmaceutical companies had broken just about all the safety and ethical rules in the book. Prisoners at Arkansas State Penitentiary (US) were DELIBERATELY INJECTED WITH DEADLY VIRUSES to study them for progression of diseases in exchange for reduction of their prison sentence. This blood was then sold to the pharmas and made into plasma products which were KNOWN to be contaminated. They were then injected into the veins of NHS patients. Prisoners families revealed that inmates were also beaten and tortured, as well as being infected themselves with viruses so hardly a place “fit for purpose” for blood collection.
More EXPERIMENTS were carried out at the UK end on PUPS (Previously Untreated Patients) and mild haemophiliacs to again study how their bodies reacted to HIV and HCV. Experiments against the Nuremberg Code by NHS “Nazis”. They then withheld positive test results for years so that haemophiliacs unknowingly put their families at risk and were out of time to pursue legal cases.
I know this because I accessed thousands of documents covering this BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM to write my Masters dissertation and noted that doctors wrote in minutes that they were injecting babies, children with blood KNOWN to be infected as it was “cheaper than chimpanzees” to use humans. The Department of Health went on a shredding frenzy to hide evidence including some belonging to former Health Minister, now Lord David Owen who tried to help campaigners. Government “lost” key files warning against the use of US prison blood from the early 1970s. There are thousands of media articles, documentaries, news videos, parliamentary debates, petitions, websites and an audio archive of infected haemophiliacs, families and campaigners housed in the British Library for researchers detailing the contaminated blood scandal and cover-up. BBC Newsnight ran several long pieces on TV and were nominated for Best Newsnight Of The Year award by Royal Television Society (RTS) for revealing more on this cover-up.
Haemophilia litigants fighting the government in court for UNLAWFUL KILLING were deceived even by their own lawyers according to one solicitor’s letter stating “I can no longer lie to my clients”. Solicitors appeared afraid to tackle the British government head on for fear of the impact on their own careers.
Vital documents and information was DELIBERATLY withheld from clients so they would sign a waiver forgoing certain legal rights (now deemed to be illegal). The government has repeatedly REFUSED to hold an independent public inquiry saying it wasn’t in the interests of the public to know about blood safety. Even the government trust set up to assist infected persons and widows of the deceased was embezzled by a government official who stole hundreds of thousands of pounds by creating false profiles of victims. The safety violations mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg… see following link for earlier article,
“Penrose Inquiry: Bad Blood, biological terrorism and cover-up under a failed western democracy”
Andy Burnham the liar and coward who ignored sick and dying haemophiliacs (Telegraph)
From 2006 when Andy Burnham was made Minister of State for Health he should have been aware of the “the worst medical treatment disaster in the NHS”. Ignorance is no defence as it affects competence.
In 2009 when Burnham was promoted to Secretary of State For Health he was approached multiple times on the “bad blood issue” by dying haemophiliacs and their families pleading with him to address this issue in the name of justice.
In January 2015 Andy Burnham participated in a key debate in parliament. David Cameron finally giving a weak apology to haemophiliacs years too late for most that are now 6 feet under after suffering decades of stigma, pain and distress. Watching the debate I felt sick to the stomach as Burnham (perhaps with leadership hopes for the future) lied to parliament pretending that he had previously been largely unaware of the issues surrounding this scandal. A privately funded inquiry led by Lord Archer of Sandwell held across the road from Westminster produced an in-depth report “The Archer Report” which was presented to successive governments. Burnham’s statement was utter rubbish and an insult to haemophiliacs who camped outside his Leigh constituency office. The following was reported in the Warrington Guardian on the 24th June 2009,
Mike Kenwright infected with hepatitis C through his treatment camped outside Burnham’s office (Warrington Guardian)
“they (haemophiliacs and families) handed in more than 70 letters from the families of those who have died from their infections and from those too ill to travel.
One letter came from a seven-year-old girl who had held her father’s hand as he died of his illness.
‘This supposedly honourable gentleman who is now Minister for Health did not even have the decency to give sick people, who had in some cases travelled more than 200 miles to be there, just a few minutes of his time even though all he had to do was come to the door of his office,”’ said Mike, of Chester Road.
‘The word coward comes to mind’
‘we went there to do the job of showing this Government we are not going away until this issue is put to rest, and the protest certainly did this even if Mr Burnham is too much of a coward to meet the victims of NHS contaminated treatment face to face,’ said Mike.”
As a key campaigner on contaminated blood who lost both a husband and brother-in-law (and one who keeps all her documents) I am now publishing an open letter I wrote to Andy Burnham dated 4/o7/2009 after a number of calls to his office requesting a meeting to discuss my research.
Mike Dorricot one of the latest victims to die of contaminated blood but Burnham knew of the problems years ago
OPEN LETTER TO ANDY BURNHAM
A MESSAGE ON BLOOD SAFETY: GOING BACK TO SOURCE, REMEMBERING THE BROAD STREET PUMP
Dear Mr Burnham,
If the UK government is to sustain a safe blood supply for its citizens it must be willing to learn from mistakes of the past and develop an open and honest approach in relation to national blood policy and practice. This should include allowing ongoing access to officials at the Department of Health for campaigners, researchers, and patient groups that are regular recipients of blood and blood products.
One of first steps towards ensuring continuing high standards for blood safety is to look back at the history of blood contamination and address what went wrong. It is particularly important to understand how nearly 5,000 haemophiliacs came to be infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses through their NHS plasma treatment much of which was sourced from US prisons. How can the general public maintain confidence that they will receive safe transfusions and plasma treatment if successive governments have continually refused to accept the mistakes of the 1970s and 80s in what is described by Lord Winston as “the worst medical treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”? It would also seem that it is difficult to have faith in the government’s own official report on past blood policy which was released in 2006 when even the title is misleading!
The very name of the report entitled “Self-Sufficiency in Blood Products in England and Wales: A Chronology from 1973 to 1991” suggests that “self-sufficiency” was actually achieved when the UK has still not reached this objective even today and won’t now because of the dangers of v CJD which has led to continued reliance on importing white cell plasma from the US.
The government report cannot be relied upon to present an accurate overview of events when at their own admission the DOH acknowledged that an “overzealous junior civil servant inadvertently shredded thousands of documents”. I am aware from conversations with Lord David Owen that his own ministerial papers from his time as Health Minister in the 1970s were also destroyed. Therefore the 2006 report is important not for the content of its pages but for what is actually missing or excluded from this publication.
My own research dissertation also written in 2006 critiques the government report using many documents that the government omitted from their study. I am the 2009 joint recipient of the Michael Young Prize from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This was awarded in honour of Lord Young of Dartington who promoted the importance of research that “offers genuine new insights and is likely to have an impact beyond academia”. The study also fully supports the 2009 message of World Blood Donor Day from the World Health Organisation, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent – “ achieving 100% non-remunerated donation of blood and blood components” something that was in fact recommended by the WHO as far back as 1975 on the grounds of safety. Paid donors are generally less concerned about their health and more focused on being financially rewarded for their life blood.
The whole point of awarding this prize is to enable early career researchers to disseminate their findings to relevant bodies. This is proving easier said than done with the DOH as they don’t appear to want to engage with me on my study in the same way that the government refused to engage fully with Lord Peter Archer and accept the recommendations from his recent Public Inquiry report into contaminated blood and blood products. One recommendation which echoed my own included giving haemophiliacs financial recompense on a parity with those in Eire. Another involved setting up a statutory haemophilia committee with patient and relative representation where they could be involved in tendering procedures, review treatment products and consider the benefits of more recent technology such as Pathogen Inactivation. Again this was in line with my conclusions that highlighted the need for more patient involvement in decision making regarding their treatment.
In 2007 I was fortunate to converse on several occasions with the well-respected Dr Spence Galbraith in the process of working with BBC 2 Newsnight on a film investigating haemophiliacs and blood contamination. Dr Galbraith has an excellent reputation and is credited in his obituary by Professor Christopher Bartlett as “playing a leading role in modernising the methods and arrangements for surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases in England and Wales”. During the 1980s Dr Galbraith was Director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and advised government health officials on blood safety.
Before Dr Galbraith died he sent me some of his research papers and a book he had written on John Snow and the Broad Street pump, (Snow was voted the greatest British doctor of all time in one recent opinion poll) and pioneered the science of epidemiology -studying the transmission and control of disease. He was famous for tracing back a serious outbreak of cholera in the 1850s to a source of contaminated water which came up through a pump that locals used for drinking, cooking and washing.
As Dr Galbraith and I understood only too well, sometimes a simple common sense approach is needed to prevent the spread of disease…….. and that is being open-minded and listening to those working in the field. As his predecessor Snow pointed out on another occasion when cholera erupted, the Vauxhall Water Company needed to look at its practise as the company had failed to take the necessary precautions of eliminating sewage when supplying the community with drinking water (Judith Summers, 1989) At that time officials did not want to hear Snow’s explanation or believe his findings, they were reluctant to take action and admit mistakes for fear of litigation. It is only now that people fully appreciate how advanced Snow was for his time, how sad that those at the cutting edge of new initiatives should so often be penalised for having insight where so many others have failed!
Over 150 years down the line researchers and campaigners now are met with the same resistance from a government that does not want to admit the mistakes of the last 30 years when blood was imported from the most virally “high- risk” sources for hepatitis including US prisons. Inmates (many of them known drug addicts) were encouraged by prison authorities to sell their blood and as documentary film-maker Kelly Duda showed the prisoners themselves were often administering the paperwork so that anyone that had been exposed to hepatitis would simply falsify their name. This plasma was then bought by international pharmaceutical companies, made into factor concentrates and shipped around the world to treat haemophiliacs.
The DOH do not want to remember this dark period in patient treatment where profit was prioritised over safety. Dr Galbraith did have great insight back then and warned about the dangers of using “high-risk” sources for years as did American hepatitis expert Dr Garrott Allan in 1975 when he wrote to the UK government authorities pleading with them not to use American prison blood because of concerns over patients contracting hepatitis.
In May 1983 Dr Galbraith was very thorough in his research as usual and was quick to indentify cases of AIDS in haemophiliacs in Spain and America (recipients of prison plasma) that were already diagnosed through their symptoms. He wrote to the relevant bodies stating that this treatment should be taken off the shelves immediately and withdrawn from use. This never happened and left Dr Galbraith frustrated and furious as he feared for the lives of haemophilia patients. (Interestingly his documents from that era did not appear in the government’s 2006 report)! This is just one of many examples where experts were ignored. The government has repeatedly stated that there was no “wrongdoing” and no-one was ever at fault!
Two years ago at around the same time I was consulting with Dr Galbraith I received a phone call at 9.30 on a Saturday morning, it was from a retired government advisor who held a prominent position during the 1980s and was responsible for the decision to continue using US prison plasma products. Dr Galbraith had always held this man partly responsible for the infection and deaths of many young men …why? Dr Galbraith felt that this well educated man should have known better and because someone with expert training in the spread of infectious diseases understands that drug addict prisoners are not a healthy source of plasma. It doesn’t take an expert to comprehend that fact!
The phone call was not entirely unexpected, the Public Inquiry was underway and I had put out feelers for this man to get in touch and talk to me. The former blood safety advisor was calling from Wales and our conversation lasted well over an hour. The discussion on his part appeared to be a “confessional” – an older man who now had time to think, review his professional decisions and wanted to get things off his chest. He admitted that his decision not to withdraw treatment was wrong and the government should never have used prison blood in the first place. He confirmed that they knew the hepatitis risks from pooled plasma and such sources from the 1960s…. he admitted that it was written in medical journals. He said importation shouldn’t have happened but the government had not invested enough money in UK blood services which were allowed to become run-down.
My caller informed me that treatment was not so ethical in those days, “you didn’t tell the patients much”. I recall him laughing rather inappropriately as he told me that doctors were on the pay-roll of the American plasma companies so they didn’t want treatment withdrawn from the shelves. I saw this as a classic “conflict of interest” situation. This man wanted to know how my husband and brother-in –law had died and how had they felt in their last days. I told him the details and finally he said he was sorry and admitted “wrongdoing” saying he felt some responsibility for their deaths. In actual fact there was nothing this man told me that I didn’t already know from my own research but I forgave him as I needed to hear someone that was implicated in decision making then tell me the truth, and my husband believed in forgiveness. Also, I had read The Railway Man by Eric Lomax (a book about forgiveness) and often wondered what I would do myself if the time ever came!
Mr Burnham, I am asking you, what are going to do morally to recognise the “extraordinary suffering” of haemophiliacs as the government did in Eire. Is your government going to draw out the suffering of haemophiliacs and their families even longer by continuing to give out misinformation, untruths about the compensation scheme in Eire and thereby delay justice….. or will the government learn from history and now do the right thing?
Carol Grayson (Researcher/Haemophilia Campaigner)
Yvette Cooper, a meeting at Westmister and false promises to dying haemophiliacs (Mirror)
Some time prior to this letter I had met with Yvette Cooper at Westminster in the presence of civil servants, MPs and other campaigners on bad blood. Back in 1999 Cooper held the position of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health. After the 2005 general election she become a Minister of State. Cooper reassured me that if I could prove haemophiliacs had received contaminated blood from Arkansas Prison she would call for an investigation. I refer to this meeting in a letter to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown (22nd April 2010) see extracts to follow…
My husband Peter (deceased) holding his treatment records that proved legally which plasma batches came from Arkansas State Penitentiary (Newcastle Journal)
My husband Pete sick and swollen from liver failure days before he died without justice, he drown in his own fluids (Newcastle Journal)
Gordon Brown ignores sick and dying haemophiliacs
“I am writing to you with regard to my husband and brother-in-law who died in very painful and distressing circumstances from HIV/HCV as a result of receiving contaminated NHS blood from US prisons, Arkansas State Penitentiary in the case of my husband as I managed to trace his treatment batch numbers. In a past meeting with Yvette Cooper, then Department of Health, she had promised that the government would investigate if we could prove this and I have done so but the government has gone back on its word.”
“I have repeatedly provided government with a list of serious safety violations and recall at a meeting with former Health Minister Yvette Cooper that she promised to investigate the US prison plasma programmes if we could prove treatment batch numbers could be linked back to Arkansas and other prisons. We did this through lawyers, with the help of documentary film maker Kelly Duda who made “Factor 8 : The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal” and Linda Miller sister of an infected plasma donor. Yet the government has always refused us a full and open public inquiry into what Lord Winston called “the worst medical treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.
“How dare the government lie to the people telling us all the information is in the public domain when it clearly wasn’t, repeatedly give out misinformation in parliament and withholding documents on the grounds of “commercial interest”. Once again both the UK and the US prioritised profit over safety. No wonder former Health Minister Lord Owen’s ministerial records were trashed when he tried to help us expose this and Lord Morris of Manchester’s Contaminated Blood Bill is blocked in parliament.”
Ironically, Cooper had actually spent time working in Arkansas for Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992. Clinton was linked to the blood scandal. At one stage the Arkansas prison plasma programme was deemed so dangerous it was closed down on the grounds of safety. However former Governor Bill Clinton signed to restart the programme in the early 1980s as HIV was taking hold and without the necessary measures being put in place to protect both prisoners who were cross infecting each other with viruses (partly due to unsafe practises within the plasma programme, partly through unprotected sex and sharing needles) and also infecting the recipients of their blood. Many prisoners had also been used for plasma experiments injected with viruses also http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/bloody-awful/Content?oid=863387
Clinton who now goes round the world educating on AIDS prevention has so far failed to investigate or apologise to UK haemophiliacs for a lucrative prison blood programme in his own backyard that not only generated millions of dollars but also destroyed the lives of so many.
Cooper ignored my letters and phone calls to her office once I had secured the evidence and failed to act or instruct any other health official to investigate NHS use of Arkansas prison blood.
Janet and Colin Smith of Newport, South Wales, say they will never stop fighting for an official apology from the government over their son’s death (Western Mail)
Colette Wintle a female with a bleeding disorder who received US prison blood infected with hepatitis C
Tony Blair ignored a dying community
An earlier letter had been handed in to Tony Blair via 10 Downing Street in 2001 in the company of Lord Morris of Manchester (Minister for Disabilities who campaigned vigorously on this issue) in 2001 and copied to many MPs
Mr. Tony Blair, British Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Mr. Blair:
My name is Linda Tant Miller and I live in the state of Washington in the United States. The purpose of this letter is to provide you some of the information to which I am privy regarding the collection of HIV and hepatitis-tainted human blood plasma from the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction, (ADC) and its distribution throughout the world.
My brother, Bud Tant was a prisoner in the Cummins Unit from 1984 until his death from hepatitis C on March 14, 1999. Neither my brother nor his family was aware of the fact that he had this virus until approximately 1996, but according to John Byus, the current Medical Administrator of the ADC, Bud had the virus at the time he was first incarcerated there. During part of the time that my brother was donating plasma, Mr. Byus, a Registered Nurse worked in the Cummins Unit Infirmary, so he is in a position to know this fact. Bud was, nonetheless permitted to donate plasma at every collection session from 1984 until the program was terminated in 1992.
I first learned of the sickness in Canada as a result of the Cummins Unit plasma just prior to my brother’s death, but I didn’t have time to address the subject in depth until after he died. As I watched my brother die a death more gruesome and agonizing than I’d ever dreamed in my worst nightmares, I realized that millions of people all over the world would suffer his same horrendous fate and their families would stand helplessly by, suffering the same grief and agony we were enduring. I realized that most of them would never know the source of their infection, but I knew, and I vowed to my brother that I would see the atrocity exposed and those responsible for it brought to justice. I have devoted my life to this cause since that date.
Several years ago Sgt. McAlpine of the RCMP, indicated to me that they had little hope of bringing to justice the ADC administrators responsible for the knowing and deliberate harvesting and sale of tainted plasma, because by the time they got to Arkansas the paper trail was gone, so I promised him that I would find eye-witnesses and participants who would be willing to testify to what happened. I have since that time located many current and former inmates, former Cummins Unit Plasma Program staff members and a former ADC Compliance Officer who are anxious to testify to the facts of this crime.
Here are just a few of the facts I have uncovered:
- Known homosexual prison prostitutes, even those in the final stages of AIDS were routinely permitted to donate plasma.
- Men who were bloated and jaundiced from the final stage of hepatitis were routinely permitted to donate plasma.
- Even when available, tests for HIV and hepatitis were seldom utilized, and when they were, results were often falsified.
- Needles re-sharpened with sand paper and collection tubing were re-used from inmate to inmate, thereby cross-infecting virtually the entire donor base.
- The collected plasma was stored in a freezer that was often out of order. Plasma rendered unfit by thawing was re-frozen and shipped out in regular shipments.
- Plasma that was rejected by the plasma brokers as unfit was returned to the Cummins Unit for destruction. Out of each returned case of plasma, one or two units were destroyed and the rest was re-frozen and re-shipped.
- During periods of time when the US Food and Drug Administration had shut down the Cummins Unit program due to their unsafe practices, the ADC administrators continued to collect and sell plasma, using names collected from the local telephone book and selling it through a community plasma center.
All of these charges and more can and will someday be proven in a court of law.
As I’m sure you are aware, many thousands of innocent British citizens have been sickened and killed due to the deliberate crimes committed by the MEDICAL PERSONNEL who administered the Cummins Unit Plasma Center. I hope therefore that you will join your voice to those of us who are working to see justice served in this matter. I urgently implore you to use the power of your office to spur the FBI and the US Department of Justice to implement a full-scale investigation of the people and institution that made the tainted plasma available to the pharmaceutical companies. Had it not been for the greed and corruption of the plasma collectors the people and governments of the world would not now be facing the tragedies and financial burdens with which we’re now forced to struggle
I know all too well the effect my brother’s suffering and death has had on my family. We will never be the same. I no longer work at a paying job because seeing justice done in this matter is far more important to me than my own personal comfort and finances. My parents have developed health problems due to the stress and grief of our tragedy that will soon see both of them in their graves. My sister and I have debilitating flashbacks to the time of our brother’s dying which haunt us day and night, turning our lives into nonstop nightmares of pain and grief. Multiply our suffering by BILLIONS, since the secondary infections from the Cummins Plasma Program will continue to the end of time unless science discovers cures or vaccines against the plague the Arkansas Department of Corrections and its employees have unleashed upon the world. Sir, the people who are guilty of this atrocity are the worse criminals in history and I hope you will be as incensed and determined to see justice done as I am.
I also pray you will heed the pleas of my good and wise friend Carol Grayson and take the steps necessary to see to it that no other British subjects will be infected with deadly diseases during medical treatment and to assure that fair and equitable compensation is made to ALL the victims of this atrocity.
For more information on the Cummins Unit Plasma Program please visit my web site at http://www.geocities.com/bloodcows. In addition, a friend of mine is producing a documentary film about the Cummins Unit Plasma Program that contains yet more testimony and information. It will air in a few months and I will notify you of the date and time as soon as they are known.
I will appreciate a response to this letter, apprising me of your thoughts and intentions regarding this atrocity and the plight of the victims.
Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter of justice.
LINDA TANT MILLER
(Address withheld for security reasons)
Lord Alf Morris (deceased, who was the first Minister for Disabled) worked tirelessly for victims but Burnham and Cooper failed to support, call for an independent inquiry and fully compensate victims and their families
Burnham and Cooper not fit for leadership role
A government and nation is judged on how its treats its sick, impoverished and vulnerable citizens. Labour had years in power to address this wrongdoing, instead the party concentrated on going to war based on false evidence, funding years of conflict while ignoring key domestic issues. Many lives were destroyed in the contaminated blood scandal and instead of a full apology victims were insulted, shamed and campaigners even had their confidential correspondence from their lawyers opened as was shown on Channel 4 News. Burnham and Cooper do not deserve to be in a leadership role. Guy Adams writing on “bad blood” for the Daily Mail called the disaster,
“a betrayal to make you weep: That 1,800 Britons have been ‘murdered’ by tainted NHS blood is bad enough, but the grotesque way the victims have been denied justice is the scandal of our age” (Guy Adams, Daily Mail)
Burnham and Cooper have proven they cannot be trusted to deal with key issues which included health and safety for the nation in terms of our blood supplies and also a matter of justice for victims. They lied and were in positions of responsibility yet colluded as part of a government that trashed records and supressed key evidence denying truth and justice to thousands. Both showed an extraordinary lack of compassion to dying haemophiliacs, widows, children and campaigners and to fellow Labour politicians that did their best on this issue but were repeatedly blocked by government. What faith can we have in either as leader of the Labour party?
Labour is not alone on this, tragically Conservatives too put “profit before safety” on many occasions and also covered up this issue. David Cameron will also be reminded of his promises now he is back in no 10 and following his apology in January. To say sorry is not enough, with an apology should come accountability, responsibility and proper compensation for all those affected. Labour should return to its roots, with over 2,000 haemophiliacs dead and many seriously ill, the party should ensure justice is served and start caring properly for those harmed by their treatment on the NHS.
Remembering the 64 boys, all classmates from Lord Mayor Treloar School, Hampshire that died fom contaminated blood, “young, avoidable, wrong”
The final insult campaigners setting fire to the recent Penrose Inquiry Report into contaminated blood in Scotland considered a whitewash. No victim was allowed to submit evidence that would show negligence.
“Protest anger at blood scandal” (2009)
“Blood safety warnings ignored” BBC Newsnight 2007
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.