Blood row widow vows to continue cash fight

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A CAMPAIGNING widow is seeking legal action against the Government over pay-outs to support people who contracted hepatitis C in the contaminated blood scandal.

Hartlepool-born Carol Grayson's haemophiliac husband, Peter Longstaff, was just 47 when he died in 2005 after being given blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C from American prisoners in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Government announced this week a 130m boost to people who contracted hepatitis C after being treated with contaminated blood.

But Ms Grayson, 51, who now lives in Jesmond, on the outskirts of Newcastle, said the figure owed should be something like 3bn and in line with payouts to sufferers and their families in Ireland.

She says far from resolving the issue, the news has angered sufferers and campaigners.

Ms Grayson, whose parents live in the West Park area of town, accused the Government of overturning a legal decision which arose from a judicial review of a case last April which ruled that the situation in the UK regarding contaminated blood was no different to the one in Ireland.

But she said the Government this week claimed the case in Ireland was unique and based on liability.

She said: "The previous Government accepted the legal ruling in court last year and this Government has not made a legal challenge to overturn that decision."

She said UK sufferers were only being given around a tenth of payments in Ireland, where individuals could receive up to 750,000.

She said: "As you can see, the Government wants to save money.

"They have already made statements denying us justice because of the state of the economy.

"Justice shouldn't be ruled by the state of the economy.

"They have had 25 years to sort this out.

"The economy wasn't in a bad state then."

Ms Grayson said she was "appalled" at a Commons statement in which Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he hoped the new measures would bring "some comfort, some consolation and perhaps even some closure for those affected".

She said: "This will bring no closure.

"I have spoken to many members of our community and not one person has said it will bring closure.

"It will re-open old wounds."

She has now appointed lawyers to fight the Government's decision and also to look at payments based on gender inequality, in particular to allow widows to claim compensation in their own right.