Contaminated blood litigation reaches High Court

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A man whose father was a victim of the contaminated blood scandal has told of his hope that a public inquiry will be held as soon as possible to uncover the "truth" of what happened.

Jason Evans, 28, from Coventry, who is suing the Government for damages along with hundreds of other claimants, was speaking after the case reached the High Court in London on Thursday.

The civil litigation, brought against the Health Secretary, concerns imported blood-clotting products derived from blood plasma which caused haemophiliacs and others to be infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s - leading to the deaths of more than 2,000 patients.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Evans said it was "crazy" that it was taking so long for an inquiry to be held, adding: "People have waited long enough. People are still dying now."

Mr Evans, who was aged four when his 31-year-old father Jonathan died after being infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated blood, said: "The scandal itself is very wrong - but the way it has been dealt with is also very wrong."

The public gallery was packed for the hearing before Mr Justice Martin Spencer, who was asked to rule on preliminary matters during the first case management conference in what is known as the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation.

The judge heard from Steven Snowden QC that there were now 760 claimants who "wish to participate in the group litigation", and inquiries continue to be received at a rate of about 20 a week.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge made an order that the cut-off date for further claims, which are being handled by Watford-based law firm Collins Solicitors, should be November 30.

He also made an anonymity order covering the claimants, apart from Mr Evans, and announced that there would be a further case management conference in December "to see what progress has been made".

An announcement was made by Prime Minister Theresa May in November that a "full statutory inquiry" would be carried out into the scandal.

On Monday, Labour former shadow health minister Diana Johnson called on the Government in a Commons debate to take "immediate steps" in establishing an inquiry, saying lack of progress was "causing huge distress and upset for those families affected".

Victims were infected in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.