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Highland campaigner in London for publication of scathing report into UK infected blood scandal

By Val Sweeney

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Bruce Norval was infected with contaminated blood.
Bruce Norval was infected with contaminated blood.

A Highlands man infected with contaminated blood was in London today to hear a scathing report conclude that a treatment scandal affecting thousands could have been avoided.

Bruce Norval, who was given tainted products after he was diagnosed with the bleeding disorder haemophilia as a child, has spent decades campaigning to discover the truth and get justice.

More than 30,000 people in the UK - including 3000 in Scotland - were infected with HIV or hepatitis C mainly in the 1970s and 80s from receiving transfusions during surgery, or through products created using blood plasma and imported from the US to treat haemophiliacs.

About 3000 have since died and the number continues to rise.

'Children could never say exactly what their fathers had died from'

Wife of contaminated blood scandal campaigner to highlight impact at UK-wide public inquiry

Mr Norval (59), of the Black Isle, joined other campaigners in London yesterday to hear the infected blood scandal inquiry publish its long-awaited final report following a five-year investigation.

The 2527-page report concluded authorities covered up the scandal after knowingly exposing victims to unacceptable risks.

Sir Brian Langstaff, who chaired the investigation, said the calamity could “largely, though not entirely, have been avoided” – but successive governments and others in authority did not put patient safety first.

The report found patients were lied to about the risks and, in some cases, infected during research carried out without their consent, or, in the case of children, that of their parents.

There were also delays informing patients of their infections, stretching to years in some cases.

The report accused doctors, the government and NHS of trying to cover-up what happened

Mr Norval, of Fortrose, was diagnosed with haemophilia aged three and subsequently tested positive for Hepatitis C and other active viruses in 1990 after receiving infected blood.

Mr Norval, who is married with a son and a daughter, addressed the public inquiry three years ago when he spoke of his horror thinking he may have passed on hepatitis unwittingly after being turned “into potentially a vehicle that could cause death to a whole family”.

He also told the inquiry of the sense of betrayal and stigma.

Christine Norval spoke at the public inquiry.
Christine Norval spoke at the public inquiry.

His wife, Christine, also spoke at the inquiry, highlighting the impact and havoc wreaked on affected families.

Waiving her anonymity at the time, she hoped the inquiry would produce the truth plus more compensation for the victims and families who had lived with the stigma, or died with the shame.

In the wake of the findings, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a ‘wholehearted and unequivocal’ apology to the victims of the infected blood scandal.

He described it as a ‘day of shame for the British state’.

Mr Sunak said the findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry's final report should ‘shake our nation to its core’.,

He has promised that the government will pay ‘comprehensive compensation to those infected and those affected’, adding: "Whatever it costs to deliver this scheme, we will pay it."

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