From the archives: John Major said that only a “small number” of victims of tainted blood will die from HepC


JOHN Major refused to meet with the tainted victims of the blood scandal and was told that the number of people who will die from HepC was negligible.

In 1995 memos published today, the specifics came to light.

Since the 1970s, thousands of people in Britain have been harmed and killed by the scandal.

More than 400 people infected with hepatitis C have died, and more than 800 have also been infected with HIV, according to official estimates.

More than 3000 individuals are said to have been affected in total, most of them hemophiliacs.

After infected blood was imported from abroad for use, they were given contaminated blood products by the NHS, which led to infections with HepC and even HIV.

No official responsibility for the fiasco has been acknowledged by the government or the NHS, despite years of struggle.

Letters to John Major in 1995 show desperate MPs trying to get him to consent to a victim-compensation conference – a problem that persists to this day.

Mr. Major is advised by one of his advisors in a briefing note on the topic that only a “small number” of people would die from HepC infection.

“It says: “As you may remember, John Marshall MP and a group of other Conservative backbenchers have approached you to address the topic of hemophiliacs that have been infected with the hepatitis C virus as a result of NHS care. They asked for more clarification when you meet them about what you would suggest to the group.

In the style you would have for any conference, I have commissioned a briefing from the Health Department. The line to be taken would not provide any comfort at all.

“The activists argue for “no-fault payments,” a principle that successive secretaries of state for health have rejected,” he said.

For hemophiliacs infected with the HIV virus, it was granted on humanitarian grounds. They were a very special case, though. It is predicted that all of them would die over time.

“Only a very small number of those infected with hepatitis C will die.”

The Prime Minister is then advised that it will only be “to be seen to be listening to a campaign that is gaining traction across Parliament.” if there was a meeting with backbenchers.

John Marshall, MP for Hendon South, later wrote to the chief whip of the Conservatives saying it was unfair that he should have to wait three months for an answer to his invitation for a meeting, warning, “It is quite clear that my views on this subject are not of interest to the government, and I am therefore forced to point out that I will not be able to support the government…” Will this issue be the focus of a parliamentary vote?

Weeks later, Mr. Major responded to the MP that he “did not see” what value a meeting would bring and said that it was not possible to equate compensation for people with HIV with that of people with HepC.

Theresa May launched an investigation into the scandal in 2017, after decades of lobbying by victims and their families.


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