Widow of Hartlepool man who died in infected blood scandal prepares to give evidence at inquiry

The widow of a Hartlepool man who died in a national infected blood scandal says people will be shocked by evidence that comes out in a public inquiry.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 6:00 am
Carol Grayson

Haemophiliac Peter Longstaff, who was born and grew up in the town, was among at least 2,400 people who lost their lives after being given infected blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

A public inquiry opened last September in London and is scheduled to last up to two years.

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Carol Grayson and her late husband Peter Longstaff.

She is due to give evidence twice at the inquiry chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff in 2020, as both a widow and as an award-winning researcher.

Carol, 59, says it is important for her to tell her story and hopes the Government will put into action any recommendations from the inquiry to make sure nothing like it can ever happen again.

She said: “I’m confident in the evidence that I have it will show alleged negligence and wrong doing.

“I can’t really say I’m looking forward to it but it’s very important to me to get the opportunity to give evidence both as a widow in a personal capacity and as an awarded researcher.

“I think a lot of people that haven’t known what’s gone on are going to be really shocked by some of the evidence that I’ve got.

“Fortunately I’ve got access to many documents that many have never been able to see.

“It’s always been my aim to get that evidence in the public domain.

“This is the biggest ever inquiry in the UK. It is bigger than Grenfell and Windrush.”

Peter, 47, died in 2005 after contracting hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood.

The UK imported supplies of the clotting agent Factor VIII from the US, some of which turned out to be infected. And much of the plasma used to make the product came from donors like prison inmates in the US, who sold their blood.

Carol won an award for her Sunderland University thesis on the global blood trade which traced infected donors to Arkansas prisons.

She added: “We want to make sure that the terrible mistakes that were made in the 70s and 80s aren’t repeated if a new virus was to come along tomorrow.

“Another thing we want is proper compensation based on loss and need. Nobody has been compensated at this point.

“People are still dying every day.”

Carol, who now lives in Newcastle, has previously called on the Government to compensate victims now and not wait until the end of the inquiry.

She is also hoping to see equality of discretionary allowances paid to victims by the Government which Carol says are thousands of pounds less than those in Scotland following devolution.

Carol added: “We would like to thank the inquiry so far for their efforts, particularly the investigations team that I have been having daily contact with and the chair and urge the Government to please sort out the inequality across the UK as soon as possible.”