Jeremy Hunt says expected infected blood payouts of £10bn fulfil promise to constituent who died due to scandal

19 May 2024, 00:06 | Updated: 20 May 2024, 09:31

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London where he is being questioned on the Government's response to the use of infected blood and blood products and the question of compensation. Picture date: Friday July 28, 2023.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London where he is being questioned on the Government's response to the use of infected blood and blood products and the question of compensation. Picture date: Friday July 28, 2023. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said a compensation package expected to be at least £10 billion for victims of the infected blood scandal will fulfil a promise he made to a constituent who died after contracting hepatitis C.

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Tens of thousands of people were infected with contaminated blood or blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

The scandal - dubbed the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS - has been the subject of the biggest ever public inquiry in the UK.

Read More: I waited 30 years to witness a vote on the Infected Blood scandal, and still the fight isn't over

Announcing a compensation package for victims in an interview in The Sunday Times, Mr Hunt told of how he promised to "sort" a fair and full settlement during a meeting with campaigner Mike Dorricott in 2014.

Mr Dorricott was 46 at the time, and had learned just weeks before meeting Mr Hunt that he had terminal liver cancer - a disease linked to the hepatitis C he contracted as a teenager from contaminated Factor 8 blood products.

After telling his family the news that he only had months to live, he visited the then health secretary, Mr Hunt, in Whitehall.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech in Westminster in London, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech in Westminster in London, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth). Picture: Alamy

He told the future Chancellor he was angry that infected patients and their families had not received a full and fair settlement.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mr Hunt shook his hand and said: "Don't worry about this, we'll sort it."

Just a few months later, Mr Dorricott died, aged just 47.

Mr Hunt told The Sunday Times that a new compensation package, expected to be at least £10 billion, for those affected by the scandal will be "thanks to Mike more than anyone else".

He added: And it's one of the saddest things that he's not around to see it."

The Chancellor told the paper that Mr Dorricott was "so gentle, so decent".

Infected blood victims and campaigners protest on College Green in Westminster, London calling for action on compensation payments for victims of the infected blood scandal. Picture date: Wednesday February 28, 2024.
Infected blood victims and campaigners protest on College Green in Westminster, London calling for action on compensation payments for victims of the infected blood scandal. Picture date: Wednesday February 28, 2024. Picture: Alamy

"I imagine after that meeting that Mike thought that he'd been fobbed off by yet another politician giving him the runaround," he said, adding: "But what Mike didn't know was that he really had made a huge impression on me."

Mr Hunt said the money will be funded through Government borrowing, and that the package could be unveiled as soon as Tuesday - when the final report of the inquiry is due to be published.

He said the Government would look "very sympathetically" on any request from the victims or families for a national memorial.

"What we want to do after Monday is very close engagement with all the families who've been through such hell and understand from them what the next steps need to be," he said.

Mr Dorricott's widow, Ann, 57, told the paper that the announcement "brings me solace".

Campaigners, including many who are personally infected and affected by infected blood, gather in Westminster, London, calling for compensation
Campaigners, including many who are personally infected and affected by infected blood, gather in Westminster, London, calling for compensation. Picture: Alamy

"It brings me solace to know that even in death, Mike continues to make a difference," she said.

"He was a pillar of strength, fighting for justice until his last breath and his absence is deeply felt every day.

"I know that Mike always held Jeremy Hunt in high regard, and even though it has taken 10 years, he would be pleased that justice is finally being delivered to the victims."

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