Newham family says ‘justice is a step closer’ as high court judge appointed to blood inquiry
- Credit: Steve Bartram - contaminated blo
A high court judge will lead a long-awaited new public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, the government has announced today.
Victims of the health disaster - including a Newham family who lost three brothers - have welcomed the appointment of Mr Justice Langstaff as chairman.
But they accused the government of delays over the length of time it has taken to appoint an inquiry chair.
A spokesman for campaign group Tainted Blood said: “Whilst welcoming today’s announcement we also remember the 49 contaminated blood victims who have died since the announcement of the intention to hold an inquiry seven months ago.
“We sincerely hope that Sir Brian keeps urgency in mind moving forward, so that as many people as possible survive to see the inquiry’s resolution.”
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Prime Minister Theresa May first announced the new probe into the health disaster in July last year.
Mr Justice Langstaff will take up the post on May 1 after retiring from the High Court.
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He promised a “thorough examination of the evidence” behind the major scandal which saw thousands of haemophiliacs and others die after being given tainted blood or blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
The blood was riddled with HIV and hepatitis C and around 2,400 people have so far lost their lives due to the viruses they contracted.
“Providing infected blood and plasma products to patients truly deserves to be called a major scandal,” Mr Justice Langstaff said.
“I intend, through this inquiry, to be able to provide both some well-needed answers to the victims and their families, and recommend steps to ensure that its like will never happen again.”
He will consult people affected by the disaster on the inquiry’s terms of reference before taking up the role full time.
The victims include East Ham father and merchant navy man Victor Farrugia, a haemophiliac who was infected with Aids and died in 2002 having suffered years of painful stigma.
His nephew Tony Farrugia, who also lost his father Barry and another uncle David to the scandal, said: “Finally our road to justice begins after 31 years. We are very pleased with this announcement and now want to proceed as soon as possible.
“The truth must be told for the victims, their families, and to ensure this never happens again.”
The inquiry appointment was announced by Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, who said: “I am determined that this independent inquiry will give victims and their families the answers they have spent decades waiting for.”