Daily Express

‘This is your report... Thewords come from you and your stories’

- By Robert Kellaway

SIR Brian Langstaff was given a standing ovation by blood scandal victims and campaigner­s yesterday as they were finally delivered justice.

For six years, the Infected Blood Inquiry chairman’s unshakeabl­e determinat­ion to uncover the truth and the shameful cover-up that followed kept the families’ hopes alive.

The former High Court judge’s reaction to their applause yesterday was typical – instead turning the praise to those who had told how the scandal wrecked their lives.

Sir Brian, 76, said: “You’re applauding the wrong people. This is your report. The words come from you and your stories.” He said in a statement: “For everyone involved, the evidence given to this inquiry has been difficult to listen to. That is an understate­ment.

“It has been hard for those centrally involved, and must have been hard for many observing.

“But it has been much harder still for those who were recounting their own experience­s. Or listening to stories which touched a nerve, which brought back memories they would rather have forgotten, but had brought themselves to tell the inquiry because their truth was important to tell.

“The harm that was done to people cannot adequately be put into words. I have tried. But parents watched their children suffer and, in many cases, die.

“Children witnessed the decline and death of one, sometimes both, parents and their lives were irrevocabl­y altered as a result. People had to care for their grievously ill partners or other family members, often at the expense of their own health and careers.

“People put their faith in doctors and the Government to keep them safe – and this was betrayed.”

Sir Brian described the scale of what happened as “horrifying” and said the authoritie­s had been too slow to respond. Addressing the issue of a cover-up, he said that better wording to describe it was “hiding the truth”.

He said there has been a lack of openness and elements of “downright deception”, and said this included destroying documents.

Sir Brian said the scandal had ruined “lives, dreams, friendship­s, families and finances”, adding that the numbers dying were still climbing week by week.

He said: “This disaster was not an

accident. The infections happened because those in authority – doctors, the blood services and successive government­s – did not put patient safety first.”

Among those infected were around 380 children with bleeding disorders who got HIV after being given blood products for their condition, the report said.

Many of those died in childhood or young adulthood, having endured a level of pain and fear that no young person should ever have to face, it was said. The report claimed some were treated without them or their parents giving informed consent.

Sir Brian was also critical of the delays to calling a public inquiry. He said the fact it took so long hampered his investigat­ion, as key people have since died or been too frail to give evidence. He also described an “institutio­nal defensiven­ess” by the NHS and Government that had compounded the harm done.

Sir Brian singled out Arthur Bloom, ex-director of Cardiff Haemophili­a Centre. According to the report, Prof Bloom’s views “disastrous­ly overly influenced” the way the Government viewed the emergence of Aids and played down the threat posed to people with bleeding disorders.

Sir Brian was announced as the chair of the inquiry in 2018.

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 ?? ?? Harrowing...Sir Brian gives statement
Harrowing...Sir Brian gives statement
 ?? ?? Hero...Sir Brian Langstaff with victims in Westminste­r yesterday
Hero...Sir Brian Langstaff with victims in Westminste­r yesterday

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