Contaminated blood scandal victims shame Rishi Sunak for being 'forced to do right thing' after Tory revolt

5 December 2023, 16:25 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 16:28

MPs voted by 246 to 242 in favour of the amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill.
MPs voted by 246 to 242 in favour of the amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill. Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Victims of the contaminated blood scandal have criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, saying he "should be ashamed" of himself for holding out against a new compensation body, as 22 Tories rebelled against the whip.

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On Monday evening, Rishi Sunak suffered a defeat in the commons as dozens of Conservative MPs rebelled and voted to support a Labour policy to compensate victims of the scandal.

MPs voted by 246 to 242 in favour of the amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill.

22 Conservative MPs rebelled in what is Mr Sunak's first commons defeat as prime minister, and the first defeat on a whipped vote since the 2019 general election.

The government is now expected to set up a body, this spring, to oversee compensation to victims.

Now, campaigners have said that Mr Sunak had to be "dragged kicking and screaming" to compensate victims and have warned he is on the "wrong side of history".

Read more: 'I cannot overstate the amount of trauma': Infected blood scandal victim advocates for justice and compensation

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Kate Burt, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: "The PM should be ashamed that it has taken cross-party political pressure and public opinion to force his government to do the right thing and commit to a full compensation scheme for people impacted by the contaminated blood scandal.

"He fails to understand that compensation is about so much more than money.

"This was an appalling tragedy. We certainly understand the strength of feeling", Rishi Sunak&squot;s official spokesperson has said.
"This was an appalling tragedy. We certainly understand the strength of feeling", Rishi Sunak's official spokesperson has said. Picture: Alamy
Someone dies "every four days", from infected blood, according to MPs.
Someone dies "every four days", from infected blood, according to MPs. Picture: Alamy

"For the families of those who died, compensation is recognition of their suffering and an acknowledgement that their beloved child, parent, sibling or partner was valued beyond measure."

The government had wanted to wait for the final report, in what Ms Burt calls "another example of official procrastination, delaying tactics which denigrate the community that have suffered so much over such a long period of time."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson said: "First and foremost, we have accepted the moral case for compensation and acknowledge justice needs to be delivered for victims.

"This was an appalling tragedy. We certainly understand the strength of feeling."

Andrew Marr breaks down the 'blood scandal'

Speaking to Andrew Marr, The son of a man infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV explained how the scandal tore his family apart.

Tony Farrugia said that before falling victim to the infected blood scandal, his father, who was a gas technician, was given the one-donor treatment of cryoprecipitate.

He was then switched to the American Factor VIII treatment; and from his first infusion, he contracted hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

He then later contracted HIV through the Factor VIII treatment.

Mr Farrugia's father became very ill before the "family kind of imploded", as Tony was removed from the family home and placed into care.

His father was then sectioned under the Mental Health Act in April 1986; he did not return home and died in hospital around seven months later.

Upon their father's death, Tony's twin brother was also placed into care but were separated: "We weren't put together, we were separated over 100 miles apart."

The brothers did not see each other until they were 18-years-old and Tony did not see his other three brothers until 2010.

Read more: 'The family imploded': Son of haemophiliac tells Andrew Marr how infected blood scandal tore his family apart

Clive Smith, chair of the Haemophilia Society, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This has never been about politics", and accused Mr Sunak’s government of "working at a snail's pace.

"They have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do this, and Rishi and the Tory Party, I'm afraid, will be on the wrong side of history and future because it shouldn't have needed to come to this."

Nick Ferrari is joined by infected blood scandal victim Andrew Evans

Around 30,000 patients with haemophilia and other blood disorders were given tainted medical products in the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in thousands being infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

The donations came from America, from people who were paid to give their blood to the manufacturers of the product.

In what is considered the worst treatment scandal in NHS history, over 3,000 victims were killed.

Someone dies "every four days", from infected blood, according to MPs.

In addition, some sufferers unwillingly infect their partners.

Justice Minister Edward Argar had said the Government would amend the Bill in the Lords to establish the necessary structure and timescales for a delivery body to provide compensation.

But he outlined that the Government would still not act until the final report from the independent Infected Blood Inquiry has been published.

In what is considered the worst treatment scandal in NHS history, over 3,000 victims were killed.
In what is considered the worst treatment scandal in NHS history, over 3,000 victims were killed. Picture: Alamy

An independent inquiry into the scandal was ordered in 2017 by then-Prime Minister Theresa May.

It was due to publish its final report this autumn but the document will now be published in March 2024 due to the "sheer volume and scale of the material".

Under the current scheme, only victims themselves or bereaved partners can receive an interim payment of around £100,000.

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