Widow calls for fast-track compensation for blood scandal victims

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

The widow of a man who died in an infected blood scandal is supporting calls for the Government to immediately compensate victims.

Carol Grayson, who is originally from Hartlepool, has spent decades campaigning over the scandal.

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.

But she says people who are due compensation will die without getting the cash they deserve unless payments are made quickly.

Her haemophiliac husband Peter died at the age of 47 in 2005 after contracting hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood.

Peter, who was also born and grew up in Hartlepool, was one of 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 month and will continue next year.

Chairman of the inquiry Sir Brian Langstaff has now written to the Cabinet Office to call on the Government to take “decisive action” over the financial support available to those affected.

He said considerable concerns were raised with him during the hearings.

In his letter to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, Sir Brian wrote: “During the Commemoration people were heard asking ‘where is the compassion?’ and describing how they had ‘lost everything’, had to ‘live on the breadline’ and ‘feel betrayed’.

“Throughout the preliminary hearings there were repeated calls for financial assistance which fully recompenses individuals and families for the losses they have suffered.

“Decisive action on this matter should be taken and communicated to those affected at the earliest opportunity.”

Evidence collected by Carol, 58, helped to discredit and get withdrawn a Government report which she says it used to reject compensation on a parity with Eire.

Carol, who now lives in Newcastle, said: “I welcome the fact that Sir Brian Langstaff recognises the suffering of those infected and affected, and the need for the government to compensate now and not wait until the end of the inquiry.

“The government has never compensated haemophiliacs and their families.

“This charade from the British government denying compensation, which has gone on for 30 years, must now stop, and proper compensation must be awarded as a matter of urgency.

“Many have died since the inquiry began, and many others are in such poor health they do not have the time to wait any longer.”

A Government spokesman said the inquiry is a priority and will reply to Sir Brian’s recommendations in due course.