Infected Blood Inquiry hears first evidence as chair promises it is ‘frightened of no-one’

Undated handout photo issued by the Factor 8 Campaign of Factor VIII blood products. A campaigner wh

Undated handout photo issued by the Factor 8 Campaign of Factor VIII blood products. A campaigner whose father died from contaminated blood has accused the Government of offering victims "means-tested scraps" as a new inquiry gets under way. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday April 30, 2019. Jason Evans, whose father died in 1993 having contracted hepatitis and HIV, said the Government had failed to accept responsibility for the scandal and was now attempting damage limitation by offering victims more money. See PA story INQUIRY Blood. Photo credit should read: Factor 8 Campaign/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. - Credit: PA

The long-awaited independent public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal – which affected more than three hundred patients at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital between 1979 and 1985 – heard its first oral evidence today.

Opening the session at Fleetbank House in Blackfriars, the inquiry’s chair Sir Brian Langstaff said it would be “frightened of no-one”.

He also thanked witnesses and spoke of reading moving witness statements. He said: “Some are harrowing; some incredibly moving; some chillingly factual. All are valuable. There are more to come.”

The scandal saw thousands infected with HIV and hepatitis C via contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

The inquiry will hear evidence in London until Friday May 3, and then from May 7 to May 10, but will then move to Belfast, Leeds and Edinburgh. It will return to London in June and October.

When the inquiry held its opening last September, two men infected with HIV by contaminated blood products at the Royal Free told this paper they hoped it would bring justice.

One, Mark Ward said: “We have been betrayed. We need closure, and justice has to be seen to be done.”

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Additional reporting by the Press Association.