Contaminated Blood: Compensation to haemophiliacs was rejected using a false government narrative and a now disgraced Department of Health report

Haemophiliac Peter Longstaff shows blood records traced back to Arkansas State Penitentiary, Peter died in 2005 without ever having received compensation from the government

Today the Infected Blood Inquiry which is investigating how patients including Peter Longstaff and his younger brother Stephen both haemophiliacs with an inherited bleeding isorder came to be given contaminated blood on the NHS, has released the following letter,

Sir Brian Langstaff calls on government to take “decisive action” over financial support for infected and affected

Letter from Chair of the Inquiry asks for prompt action to address concerns about financial support

The Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, has written to the Cabinet Office drawing attention to the current financial support schemes that see infected and affected people across the UK paid widely varying amounts of financial assistance or having difficulty in accessing funds.

In his letter to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington MP, Sir Brian acknowledges the level of sentiment and anger expressed to him at the preliminary hearings in September from those infected and affected.

In his letter Sir Brian says:

“Throughout the hearings there were repeated calls for financial assistance that fully recompenses individuals and families for the losses they have suffered…decisive action should be taken at the earliest opportunity.”

The letter also notes the lack of desire among core participants for the Minister to appoint panel members alongside the Chair and asks the Cabinet Office to confirm that he does not intend to appoint them. It reiterates the Inquiry’s intention that the Inquiry’s expert groups will provide transparent and open advice to Sir Brian across a range of expert opinion.

The full text of the letter can be found on the following link,

https://www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk/news/sir-brian-langstaff-calls-government-take-decisive-action-over-financial-support-infected-and

Here is my response as the widow of Peter Longstaff and his brother Stephen both now dead after receiving contaminated blood

I welcome the fact that Sir Brian Langstaff recognizes the suffering of haemophiliacs infected and affected families through NHS Contaminated Blood products and the need for government to compensate now and not wait until the end of the Inquiry. (Note haemophiliacs have always been viewed as a separate legal case to whole blood victims that have their own support network)

The government has NEVER compensated haemophiliacs and their families.

Government has however repeatedly DENIED compensation to the haemophilia community using 3 key statements,

1) For decades government stated they didn’t need to compensate haemophiliacs as “all the information is in the public domain”. This is FALSE, I myself discovered many key government documents that weren’t in the public domain which I included in my awarded dissertation (2006) and returned to government in batches over the years from the 1990s via my MP, jointly with the Newcastle Journal and via my lawyers including documents in 2006 which are now in the National Archives at Kew for the public to access.

2) A FALSE narrative was created by government to deny paying “compensation on a parity with Eire” (a phrase I coined in 1996 and which I requested over 2 decades ago). This false narrative was proven during a Judicial Review won in 2010 by haemophiliac Andrew March whose lawyers used my evidence from 2004, key letters from the Irish government, Irish lawyers and Irish haemophilia Society.

The documents showed that Eire paid out on the grounds of “loss and need” without accepting legal liability on the grounds of “extraordinary suffering” at court levels of compensation payment but without forcing sick and dying people to go to court which would further impact on their physical and mental health.

British government falsely stated that the situation was different in Eire and that Eire accepted liability. Letters sent to me in 2004 from the Irish Haemophilia Society, Irish lawyers and Irish government backed me in writing.

The British government were WRONG… Eire DID NOT accept legal liability.

3) Government used their so called “definitive report” to reject “compensation on a parity with Eire” as recommended by (the late) Lord Archer of Sandwell, former Solicitor General in the Archer Inquiry report (2009) into how haemophiliacs came to be contaminated with HIV/hepatitis C through blood products. The Dept of Health Self Sufficiency Report in Blood Products in England and Wales: 1973 to 1991 published in 2006 was critiqued by me for which my research was awarded the ESRC Michael Young award.

The DOH report was finally disgraced and withdrawn in December 2017 using evidence from my dissertation which was blocked for a decade. I showed what was important wasn’t so much as to what was included in the report… but what was left out! This included documents showing alleged liability.

This is the link to the DOH Self-Sufficiency in blood products in England and Wales (report): A chronology from 1973 to 1991

https://haemophilia.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Self-sufficiency-in-blood-products-in-England-and-Wales-A-chronology-from-1973-to-1991.pdf

and an article from BBC on this report being quietly withdrawn in December 2017

“Contaminated Blood report full of lies”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42410301

This charade from the British government denying compensation which has gone on for 30 years must now stop and proper compensation must be awarded as a matter of urgency. Many have died since the Inquiry began and many others are in such poor health, they do not have the time to wait any longer!

The following is a letter I sent to Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health on October 11th 2018

Dear Mr Hancock,

Contaminated blood compensation rejected using DOH report now withdrawn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock if he will now award haemophiliacs infected with HIV and hepatitis B, C and exposed to v CJD and their families proper compensation on a parity with Eire as recommended by Lord Archer in his Inquiry report?

I ask on the following 2 grounds…

1) A Judicial Review in 2010- WON against the then Secretary of State for Health highlighted a false narrative on Eire. As written documents sent to me in 2004 from the Eire government, Irish lawyers and Irish Haemophilia Society and used to argue the legal case for haemophiliacs and their families proved, Eire paid out on “loss and need” on the grounds of “extraordinary suffering”. Eire DID NOT accept legal liability and paid out IN ADVANCE of a public inquiry.

Eire government confirmed they did not want to cause further distress to the Haemophilia Community by forcing a court case as this would be immoral under the circumstances. UK haemophiliacs have had an additional 20 years of “extraordinary suffering” and financial hardship since Eire paid out.

The British government has still not officially apologised specifically for putting out a false narrative on Eire used to deny compensation nor put the record straight in writing on the Eire settlement paid out at court levels, without accepting liability and without the need to go to court.

2) The DOH 2006 “Self Sufficiency in Blood Products in England and Wales: A chronology from 1973 to 1991” has now been disgraced and withdrawn from use in 2017 using evidence from my ESRC Michael Young awarded 2006 dissertation. This is several years after the 2010 JR so the withdrawal was NOT part of that legal case.

My research which critiqued this report used key government documents obtained by myself as government claimed to have destroyed their own copies showing alleged liability which were OMMITTED from the report. This whitewash of a report was also used as a tool in writing to deny haemophiliacs and their families the compensation on a parity with Eire recommended by Lord Archer.

This terrible injustice could be rectified now for the haemophilia community which have always been treated as a separate legal case to whole blood. Archer, former Solicitor-General recognized the Special Case of Haemophiliacs accepted by Virginia Bottomley on which the 1991 ex-gratia payment was paid out as highlighted in legal letters, Hansard and written responses from government.

Haemophiliacs with hepatitis C also fit the Special Status criteria which is not applicable to whole blood victims. The Archer Inquiry was specifically for haemophilia victims and their families due to recognition of the Special Status .I worked very closely to assist Lord Archer who used many of my documents and names me in the report as I submitted documents on Eire and many other issues and he echoed my own recommendations once he had independently looked at the evidence.

I should add Lord Archer did not have it in his remit to find liability so I know from my own submissions to the Inquiry where I testified twice as both widow and researcher that documents showing alleged liability could not be included and were returned to me.

In case you are not aware the Self Sufficiency report was written as a DIRECT RESPONSE to a dossier of documents submitted by the Newcastle Journal and my late husband Peter and I. We set up the Bad Blood campaign jointly with the Journal in 2000 which received awards and broke many of the key stories on what we allege a long -standing cover-up. With the help of US lawyers I was able to trace infected plasma treatment batch numbers given to my husband directly back to Arkansas State Penitentiary, the first in the UK to do so. His brother also a haemophiliac died of AIDS in 1987.

Since the Inquiry was announced many more haemophiliacs have died and bereaved families have been shackled through reliance on Trusts and now EIBBS unable to move on with their lives. Also those not under the Scottish scheme suffer alleged discrimination as they do not have the yearly “pension” as it is referred to in Scottish documents confirmed in writing to me  by Haemophilia Scotland  which gives haemophiliacs and their families freedom of movement to live outside the UK as it is paid IN ADDITION to benefits wherever they reside.

This freedom of movement which all haemophiliacs and their families should be entitled to under the Human Rights Act is prevented in other parts of the UK as haemophiliacs and families are entirely reliant on EIBBS and the benefit system if too ill to work and would lose benefits if they moved outside the EU. This in itself could present a further legal challenge.

I ask you to also financially match the annual “pension” paid out in Scotland and pay this to all other haemophiliacs and their bereaved partners across the UK in addition to state benefits.

How can 2 people one in Edinburgh, one in Newcastle that signed up to the same HIV legal agreement in 1991 under Justice Ognal for example now receive such shockingly different financial payments. It is grossly unfair and causes friction within haemophilia families living in different parts of the UK. This is divisive and extremely cruel.

Sick and dying people have been waiting for justice for 30 years so please don’t fob me off by saying wait another few years for recommendations of the Infected Blood Inquiry. As in Eire this can be settled right now in advance of waiting for the Inquiry to produce a report and is the right and just action to take.

All the government would have to do is accept a compensation submission by a person’s legal representative based on loss and need and supported by a health professional with solicitor’s costs as Tribunals have caused unnecessary delays in Eire.

If the governments puts right this terrible wrong now using Archer’s recommendations already set up, this would allow more time to seek solutions to helping whole blood victims that did not come under Archer Inquiry as they were not part of the Special Case. This would go a long way to establishing goodwill and would be viewed in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, so all could move forward.

I look forward to your prompt response.

With thanks

Yours sincerely

Carol Anne Grayson

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 former Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development (Distinction). 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”.

 

 

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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