A North East woman whose husband died after he received contaminated blood from the NHS, has spoken of her outrage after former Prime Minister Sir John Major said the victims of the scandal had suffered “incredibly bad luck".

Carol Grayson, whose husband Peter Longstaff died in 2005 after he was infected through blood products given to treat haemophilia, has demanded Sir John apologise for his remarks.

To audible gasps from those present at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London, on Monday (June 27) Sir John suggested no amount of money could have offered a true level of compensation for what had happened.

The Northern Echo: Sir John Major Picture: PASir John Major Picture: PA

Read more: Carol Grayson, widow of infected blood scandal, praises The Northern Echo’s campaign for compensation

The infection of up to 30,000 people with HIV or hepatitis C from contaminated blood has been called the biggest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Thousands died after contaminated blood products were imported from the US in the 1970s and 1980s, often from prisoners, sex workers and drug addicts who were paid to give their blood.

Asked about one letter he wrote in November 1987, when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he described the effects of the scandal on victims as a “horror”, adding: “What had happened to them was incredibly bad luck – awful – and it was not something that anybody was unsympathetic to.”

Ms Grayson's husband was 47 when he died after he contracted HIV and hepatitis C from contaminated plasma.

Her brother in law Stephen Longstaff was one of the first victims to die as a result of the scandal in 1986, aged just 20. 

Mr Grayson, who is from Hartlepool and lives in Newcastle, said: "I was absolutely furious to hear John Major refer to the contaminated blood scandal, the infection of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitis viruses through factor concentrate treatment as “incredibly bad luck”.

“This is outrageous and won’t be tolerated by haemophilia campaigners fighting for truth and justice.

“The word "inadvertent" infection was removed in 2010 as totally inappropriate and can no longer be used.

The Northern Echo: Carol GraysonCarol Grayson

“This issue was raised by myself and fellow campaigner Colette Wintle in a meeting with Anne Milton (Health) at Westminster where we presented evidence and is minuted.

“Inadvertent means "without intention; accidentally." What happened to haemophiliacs was no accident and is allegedly due to the negligence of public bodies."

She added: "Andy Burnham (former Sec State for Health) referred to the infection of haemophiliacs in parliament as “a criminal cover up on an industrial scale"."

"We now know through tracing treatment batch numbers through US lawyers that my late husband Peter was given US treatment withdrawn in the US as the prison plasma centre at Arkansas State Penitentiary supplying plasma for factor concentrates was closed down on the grounds of safety.

"This treatment “dumped” on the UK was never withdrawn here.

"Major must apologize for his words to those infected and to affected families that have lost their loved ones, even now government seem intent on covering up."

Clive Smith, chairman of the Haemophilia Society, said in a statement following the comments: “Sir John Major’s evidence today that the suffering and death of more than 3,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders as a result of contaminated NHS treatment is ‘bad luck’ is both offensive and complacent.

“His evidence is a reminder that successive governments over the last 30 years have refused to accept responsibility for this treatment disaster – and the denial continues.

"Nost of those involved had the blood-clotting disorder haemophilia and relied on regular injections of the blood product Factor VIII to survive.

These patients were unaware they were receiving contaminated Factor VIII and, despite repeated warnings at the top of government, continued to be given the product throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

In an announcement on Thursday, the Government said it was making UK-wide changes, with any increases in annual payments backdated to April 2019.

Ms Grayson has praised The Northern Echo which launched its Fight for Justice campaign in 1986 to highlight how the Government had failed to act quickly enough to prevent contaminated blood from being supplied to haemophiliacs.

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