Contaminated Blood: How a “journalist” conning the haemophilia community led to an International Emmy for documentary “In Cold Blood”

ORIGINAL WINNERS

Carol Grayson and Peter Longstaff (deceased) who received 2 awards in 2009, for their research, campaigning and document discoveries, the ESRC Michael Young Prize and the COTT Action =Life Award on Capitol Hill, Washington DC

(Image, taken by Grayson)

Jason Evans, the son of a UK haemophiliac who died after being given Contaminated Blood learnt this week that the documentary “In Cold Blood” in which he was featured discussing the scandal had won an International Emmy award for Current Affairs. Evans posted a “publicity” photo of himself taking centre stage advertising the accolade on social media. The image was shared multiple times by haemophilia activists accessing the open Factor 8 group campaign page set up by him and also on Twitter. Evans regularly encourages and gives permission for his posts and photos to be utilized in the fight to hold those that harmed haemophiliacs and their families to account. Indeed, that is the very essence of his page and website.

Haemophiliacs have an inherited condition where their blood does not clot properly. During the 1970s and 1980s, they were treated with a new so called “miracle” treatment called factor concentrates made from large pool plasma often collected from “high-risk” donors including US prisoners who sold their blood for cash and drugs. Former Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham described the events surrounding the infection of haemophiliacs with deadly viruses and the subsequent government response as “a criminal cover -up on an industrial scale.”

Perversely however, since 2017, Evans who claims to represent haemophiliacs and their families has lied, cheated and conned his way through the Infected Blood Inquiry, set up to investigate the infection of around 4,700 haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitis viruses (and others infected through whole blood transfusions) by presenting research carried out by long standing campaigners as if it were his own work.

Evans, who refers to himself as an “investigative journalist” set up the campaign group Factor 8 in 2017 which features prominently on social media. He admitted to “following” multi awarded researcher Carol Grayson closely for 2 years, prior to the start of his own campaigning though he did not make himself known to her at the time. This (presumably) online and somewhat sinister “stalking” has clearly paid off as Evans is regularly applauded when he appears on TV and radio using Grayson’s work though always without reference. Grayson set up her own campaign group Haemophilia North, later Haemophilia Action UK way back in the 1990s. Tragically many of her original supporters are now dead.

Grayson lost both her husband Peter Longstaff and brother in law Stephen Longstaff after they received infected factor concentrate treatment. She always intended for her research and documents to be used by others providing they were properly referenced. Evans is having none of that and appears to lap up the media attention and glowing comments from his followers who are oblivious to the fact that they are being conned. One even suggested he should receive a knighthood.

What is also disturbing is Evan’s regular appeals for money for his “research” when much of the time he is simply regurgitating the work carried out by Grayson over a 30 year period. Grayson and her late husband never asked for a penny from vulnerable victims and instead funded their campaign out of their own pockets, often going short of basics to keep their investigations going.

Evan’s “star -struck” followers, often the children of infected haemophiliacs are easy prey. Most only recently actively joined the campaign scene and are naive to the fact that much of the evidence that Evans falsely claims he “discovered” was in fact documents researched and discovered by Grayson and Longstaff over many years. Grayson used this evidence in her Economic and Research Social Council (ERSC) Michael Young Prize dissertation on Contaminated Blood written in 2005/6. Michael Young (Baron Young of Dartington) was a British sociologist, social activist and politician, he lived from 9th August 1915 and died on the 4th January 2002.

The award ceremony was attended by Chris James then CEO of the Haemophilia Society, the late Martin Harvey, CEO of the now defunct Macfarlane Trust set up to provide financial support to haemophiliacs infected with HIV and their families, Sue Watts, former presenter of BBC Newsnight and independent haemophilia campaigner Colette Wintle. Sir Peter Bottomley presented the award in his role with the ESRC. So Grayson has plenty of witnesses regarding the utilization of the documents she discovered.

These papers were sent to the Department of Health (that had systematically destroyed their own copies) with accompanying legal letters on the instructions of Grayson soon after publication of her thesis and were later transferred to the National Archives at Kew. There, other campaigners including Evans have been able to access them through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Much of this evidence formed part of the 1991 HIV litigation, documents exchanged between government lawyers and solicitors for haemophiliacs during the “discovery” phase. Solicitors were meant to destroy the documents within 8 weeks of the conclusion of the litigation but for some unknown reason Longstaff’s solicitors did not trash their files.

Despite a commitment given by government to maintain the papers regarding the written letters of transfer of the documents discovered by Grayson back to Department of Health lawyers, they recently admitted in writing to destroying these papers… fortunately Grayson kept her own copies. The failure of NA Kew to reference Grayson as the provider of many documents with an accompanying history page on how they had been used and the awards received has also colluded in helping others to use this evidence without crediting them to her name. Her lawyer Ben Harrison of Milners of Leeds and Sam Stein QC, a top criminal barrister are working hard to ensure the government do not get away with this this and that she is properly accredited.

Grayson also saved several large tranches of additional government documents from being trashed over the years including many on hepatitis and government blood policies including v CJD, these too are kept at the National Archives and can be accessed via FOI.

Evans is represented by Collins Law solicitors whose clients are now deserting the firm in droves for other lawyers due to allegations that they are not receiving a good or adequate service. Victims complain they are hardly hearing from their representatives who are too busy focused on Evans and garnering publicity for themselves to pay attention to those infected and affected. One former client of Collins (who did not wish to be named) expressed his dismay that confidential legal files were allegedly left piled up unattended in a room where other visitors to Collins offices could easily access the contents.

Bell Yard Public Relations company can be seen championing both Collins and Evans on Twitter but blocked Grayson when she highlighted her concern over their collective failing to reference her work. A letter from Grayson’s legal representative on the matter to Collins remains unanswered.

In recognition of the “conflict of interest” that Grayson has with those who plagiarise her work, the Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff allowed Grayson to be represented separately by Milners solicitors as opposed to the original 4 law firms appointed to the Inquiry. Grayson and her lawyers received the decision in writing not long after the Inquiry began. This was also applied to Grayson’s campaign colleague of many years, Colette Wintle who is an infected female haemophiliac that has long championed the cause of women with a bleeding disorder and the specific difficulties they face. Wintle is a witness to Grayson’s documents as they were often shared with her at the time of release, many years before Evans began his campaign. Both women have been subjected to repeated verbal abuse and misogyny during their years of activism from government and other authorities, the medical profession, some male campaigners and the media.

Evans has been involved in several documentaries now spouting the discoveries of Grayson, subject by subject, minus any acknowledgement, the latest being as part of “In Cold Blood”. A several times awarded documentary maker, that has worked with Grayson over many years, reacted to the news of the Emmy saying she was “gutted”. She e-mailed Grayson stating,

“you must be totally pissed off that that lying git who claimed to find all that info himself when actually the film you made, already released that evidence years before, because you actually found it doing the work.”

She added,

“They (the documentary team) just let him act as though he did the work…. So annoying… Makes me sick.”

The film-maker then highlighted her own experience of misogyny saying that if she complained directly to the relevant media bodies,

“they will simply say its me being jealous of the Emmy. Also I am treated like shit as a female director.”

She then advised Grayson to make official complaints herself to International Emmy Awards, ITV and Head of ITV stating,

“the director lied in the film making it look as though Jason had discovered all the files which suited the narrative but that was false information.”

The director in this case is Grierson award winning and BAFTA nominated documentary maker Marcus Plowright. He clearly has no interest in showing an accurate Timeline of events as evidence was actually discovered and giving credit to a widow whose work exposing the scandal and highlighting themes (now echoed by the film years later) led to several previous awards for Grayson. Female haemophiliacs have been written out of the documentary narrative, where is the representation that women have been at the forefront of haemophilia campaigning over decades and historically led the way on exposing what has been covered -up and in getting increased payments for those infected and affected?

Appalled by the arrogant, abusive and misogynistic behaviour of Evans and Plowright, who think they have the right to steal the work of others, Grayson has approached the national Haemophilia Society for support with regard to the misuse of her research. She stated that, “although there were numerous difficulties in the past with the Society, Colette and I draw a distinction between past history and the current organization manned by new staff.” The women worked with staff member, Jeff Courtney to produce the first written apology from the charity for past failings and describe recent interactions with current CEO Kate Burt and trustee Clive Smith as “positive”. All recognize that it is vital that a true and accurate Timeline of events, discoveries and research is utilized so infected and affected members of the haemophilia community can achieve the truth, justice and the substantial compensation they deserve. Evans appears oblivious to the harm he is causing those that have suffered so much.

Grayson said,

“a false Timeline such as Evans claiming he discovered key documents in 2017 when they were in fact discovered by myself 20 years ago and presented in face to face meetings with ministers only serves to undermine the campaign and allows people to get away with murder. Listening to Evans on camera, as well as my documents, he stole my language, my terminology, the very essence of who I am. I am hearing my words and discoveries coming out of a male mouth. I want to highlight that women are abused all the time in this way in their day to day lives as researchers, activists and campaigners. We want men to stand with us…not take over our identities but if they are too weak and cowardly to do so, and can only cheat us to satisfy their own egos, then we will make sure we stand up for ourselves!”

She added,

“if Collins and their client threaten to take legal action against me, they can go ahead. Its an ideal opportunity to show my documents and when they were first discovered and placed in the public domain, and how stories initially appeared in the press and most importantly its a chance to educate new haemophilia campaigners that have never learnt the real history.”

As part of Grayson’s research, she traced the treatment used by her late husband who died back in 2005 to an HIV infected Arkansas prison donor through US lawyers and American documentary film maker Kelly Duda whose documentary, “Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison scandal” and accompanying documents are with the Inquiry. The depositions collected by American legal teams were accessed via Leiff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein on the instructions of Grayson and are currently appearing as evidence on the livestream channel at what is now the UK’s biggest ever public inquiry and expected to report next year.

The “In Cold Blood” documentary team have been able to get away with conning the haemophilia community as many of the original media links where key stories on Contaminated Blood were FIRST broken by Grayson and Longstaff (long before Evans arrived on the scene) no longer exist online as websites change and new ones take their place. However Grayson has produced a detailed document of historic media links of some 136 pages and growing for the Infected Blood Inquiry and that is just listing the headings and dates. In addition she has sent scanned articles in old hardcopy newspapers from their awarded Newcastle Journal “Bad Blood” campaign set up jointly with journalist Louella Houldcroft to Inquiry investigators along with other media.

To summarise, there must be zero tolerance of misogynists that abuse women in any form. It starts off with a sexist comment at the office, failing to promote women to key jobs, men claiming women’s research as their own, groping female employees at Christmas parties… then before you know it has progressed to something far more terrible, a respected member of the community, a policeman thinking he has to right to kidnap, rape and murder a bright, articulate and much loved young woman.

Meanwhile, the Infected Blood Inquiry focuses this week on the international pharmaceutical companies that produced factor concentrates with proof now being seen by the public of the allegations made by Grayson over decades as her documents are shown on the Inquiry livestream link. It is to be expected that Evans will appear again on TV screens before long claiming the next bunch of documents highlighted by Grayson were also found by him. One wonders if Mr Evans is now so far lost in cloud cuckoo land he has begun to believe his own string of lies. He has certainly invested a great deal in recent years in the art of deceiving the haemophilia community and conning journalists too lazy to carry out their own checking before publication and releasing their somewhat flawed Contaminated Blood documentaries!

Finally in an attempt to silence Grayson, Evans made a complaint to WordPress about her using the very “publicity” shot for “In Cold Blood” that he posted on an open Facebook page where so many regularly share his photos and posts (including this one) as part of campaigning on their own Facebook pages. To Grayson’s knowledge, no other objections have ever been raised to this on the page since it began. Grayson credited Jason, part of the documentary team, with putting the photo of “In Cold Blood” on his Facebook site, ironically most other campaigners did not. So it will be interesting to see if dozens of other activists will now be subject to Evan’s complaints also? Grayson, one of the UK’s most outspoken activists on Contaminated Blood over several decades said,

“those who think that bullying me will stop me from standing up for truth and justice, should think again, after decades of campaigning this only serves to make me fight even harder!”

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 was 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”.

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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