East Ham man’s family protest at Parliament over Aids deaths in blood scandal
PUBLISHED: 21:37 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 21:46 01 December 2016
Campaigners protested outside Parliament today to commemorate 1,018 people who lost their lives to Aids due to the contaminated blood disaster.
The action was staged on World Aids Day as relatives of the dead renewed demands for the government to hold a Hillsborough-style inquiry into the blood treatment scandal.
Among the protestors was the family of East Ham merchant navy man Victor Farrugia, who died in 2002.
Victor’s nephew Tony Farrugia, who wore red face paint and a jacket covered in Aids memorial ribbons, said: “The government continue to deny us a public inquiry. They need to do this and we felt World Aids Day was a vitally important time to highlight what happened with HIV within the haemophilia community.”
People with the blood clotting disorder haemophilia were infected in large numbers through blood factor treatment they received to stop painful bleeds.
Of the 1,274 who contracted HIV, only 256 are still alive today.
Victor and two of his brothers, who were all haemophiliacs, died after they were treated with contaminated blood products.
Former health minister Alistair Burt MP last week called for the Farrugia family to be compensated for the “agonies of their loss” during a debate on the blood scandal in the Commons.
The government set out plans earlier this year for a reformed system of support for victims of the disaster.
But some relatives of the dead, including the Farrugias, are left out of the scheme altogether.
Mr Burt called for a “small amount of money” to be made available to recognise the family’s loss.
He said: “Two young boys lost their father and two uncles, and were taken into care. Their lives changed hugely because of that.
“There is no part of the scheme that fits the agonies that they went through, so I wonder whether there could be some recognition of that.”
The MP called for the government to treat the blood scandal like a natural disaster or banking collapse.
He said the “drip, drip” approach to looking after victims was not working and that money could be found for other major disasters.
“We have not been able to give this issue the same priority, and it cries out for it,” said Mr Burt.