Contaminated blood: Son sues government over father’s death from HIV-infected blood
- Credit: BBC Panorama
A campaigner is taking a landmark legal case against the government over the contaminated blood disaster - providing new hope that victims of the health scandal will finally receive justice.
Jason Evans, whose father died after being infected with HIV, has discovered a document that shows the government had “conclusive evidence” Aids was in blood products from April 1984.
But the Department of Health memo also shows the government did not acknowledge this publicly until December 20, 1984.
Tragically Mr Evans’ father, who had haemophilia, was infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated Factor VIII blood products within that window of delay. He died of Aids aged 31.
Jason is suing the government for alleged negligence and breach of statutory duty.
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The 27-year-old said: “I feel, and the other children of victims feel, that ultimately the deaths of our fathers are recorded as a lie.”
Former health minister Nicola Blackwood was recently asked for the memo and said it could not be located. But Mr Evans found it within the national archives.
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The legal case is a significant development in the campaign for justice for victims of the disaster and its outcome could set a precedent for others affected - including 315 infected at the Royal Free Hospital’s haemophilia unit in Hampstead.
Jason believes that as the Aids crisis unfolded, patients should have been told about the potential risks of treatment.
Thousands of people with the blood clotting disorder haemophilia were given HIV or hepatitis C (hep C) viruses, through Factor VIII products used by the NHS in the 1980s and many others contracted hep C through blood transfusions. More than 2,000 have since died.
Mark Ward, 48, who was told by the Royal Free aged 14 that he had been infected with HIV, said: “I welcome this new case. I think it’s brilliant that after all this time it’s happening, especially after the way the government has used the law to its advantage.”
More than 120 people have so far joined Mr Evans in the group action lawsuit.
Des Collins, of Collins Solicitors, the firm handling the case, said “This is a wrong which must now be put right. It is essential that lessons are learned from this tragedy so that such disastrous mistakes are not repeated in the future.”
The Department of Health made no comment when contacted by the Ham&High, saying it was restricted by regulations in the run-up to the general election.
BBC Panorama aired a show last week highlighting calls for a new public inquiry over the blood disaster.