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‘He told me to take care of unfinished business’ - Hartlepool widow whose husband developed HIV in tainted blood scandal welcomes Infected Blood Inquiry

Carol Grayson and her late husband Peter Longstaff.
Carol Grayson and her late husband Peter Longstaff.

The widow who has become a leading light in the campaign over the contaminated blood scandal which killed her husband has welcomed the launch of a public inquiry.

Carol Grayson has won awards for her human rights work after she championed the call for action over the tainted blood supplies.

Carol Grayson, who will appear at the Infected Blood Inquiry as it gathers information.

Carol Grayson, who will appear at the Infected Blood Inquiry as it gathers information.

The infected blood claimed the lives of thousands and left many more ill after they were given transfusions infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Infected Blood Inquiry has started in London and will examine why men, women and children in the UK were given infected blood and/or infected blood products.
It will also look at the impact on their families, how the authorities, including the Government responded; the nature of any support provided following infection; questions of consent; and whether there was a cover-up.

Carol, 58, and her husband Peter, who died in 2005 aged 47, were both born and grew up in Hartlepool, with Peter educated at a boarding school for ill children before returning home to finish off his studies.

He developed HIV and hepatitis B and C and was also exposed to CJD, while his brother Stephen, who also had the condition which means the blood cannot clot, died aged 20 in 1987 after developing HIV.

I think Peter would be delighted we have finally got to this point and he told me to take care of unfinished business.

Carol Grayson

Family homes were daubed with graffiti and on one occasion Peter had to be snuck out by his GP as people ganged up against them due to the misunderstandings surrounding the viruses - all despite the fact they were victims of infected blood products.

Research they carried out was able to source a batch of plasma Peter was given back to a jail in Arkansas, while many like him were repeatedly infected through donations given to them during their treatment.

Carol, who has been presented with multiple awards for her research into the scandal and is due to address the inquiry in the spring, has voiced frustrations it has taken so long for the inquiry to be launched, but is pleased the information gathered will now be put in the limelight.
It is also hoped disparity in terms of compensation, which has seen those in Scotland given greater support despite signing the same agreements, will be addressed.

She said: “It is the first time the Government has really taken this seriously and the first time I have really felt they are actually prepared to look at the deaths.

Peter Longstaff, a haemophiliac, was given blood contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

Peter Longstaff, a haemophiliac, was given blood contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

“What I would say is that has been reported that it is really important these cases and the information is being put out there, but we have been speaking about this for many years - what’s happening now is they are acting on it.

“What we want to see is the truth and honesty and chronological honesty, acknowledgment and acceptance and we also want proper compensation.

“I think Peter would be delighted we have finally got to this point and he told me to take care of unfinished business.

“But I think he would be upset that it has taken so long.

The late Peter Longstaff with wife Carol Grayson.

The late Peter Longstaff with wife Carol Grayson.

“I think he would also be sad that 13 years on from his death, I’ve not been able to move on.”