Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, has called for an additional enquiry into the misinformation that he and other MPs received from government officials in regard to the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 80s.
It is estimated that throughout those decades, 4,689 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses through the use of contaminated clotting factors. Some of those unintentionally infected their partners, often because they were unaware of their own infection. Since then more than 3,000 people have died and of the 1,243 people infected with HIV less than 250 are still alive.
In 2006, Mr Wishart tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM), calling for an independent public inquiry into the scandal, and for proper compensation to be given to victims.
Caroline Flint, then Minister of State for the Department of Health, denied Mr Wishart’s request, stating at the time:
“The government does not accept that any wrongful practices were employed and does not consider that a public inquiry is justified.” [Please find full response attached]
During the ongoing infected blood inquiry, former Health Minister, Andy Burnham, conceded that as a minister he regularly gave information to MPs he now knows not to be true.
Today (19 July), Mr Wishart raised this in parliament, calling for a further inquiry into the misinformation that MPs were provided by officials.
Commenting, Mr Wishart said:
“Andy Burnham’s testimony confirms that government officials at the time misled myself and other MPs in regard to the contaminated blood scandal.
“This scandal has had a catastrophic impact on individuals and families across the country, including my constituency, and the government’s continued refusal to acknowledge their failings has made the situation even more traumatic for the victims.
“It is now of paramount importance that the government launch a further inquiry into the handling of this disaster, and provide all victims with proper compensation.”
Mr Bill Wright, Chair of Haemophilia Scotland and a constituent of Mr Wishart, also commented:
"The repeated opposition by the UK Government over decades has tragically compounded all the hurt, loss, pain and suffering endured by those affected by this scandal.
“Given the wreckage we always knew there was a dark story to uncover, lessons to be learned and restitution to be made. We need Government to act on the last step now before any more people die without recognition."