Contaminated blood campaigner and councillor hopes for justice as inquiry resumes

A councillor and campaigner in the contaminated blood scandal has spoken of her hope truth will come out as a national inquiry resumes.

Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 9:19 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 9:51 am
Russell Carberry with his family

Coun Paula Wakefield said it was “surreal” to see victims finally able to tell their stories on a national stage as the high-profile investigation into Factor VIII products got under way again this week.

Families of those affected by the scandal will give evidence until mid-October, with the inquiry travelling around the country to hear evidence.

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Coun Paula Wakefield

Hundreds of people died after being given the blood products and the inquiry follows years of campaigning by grieving families who say the harm caused by Factor VIII was covered up.

Coun Wakefield’s father Russell Carbery was one of those who died after contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C.

She said: “It is quite surreal. We never thought this day would come. I went to the start of the inquiry last year but now it’s becoming more real when you are hearing from the actual people who have been infected and affected by it.

“It’s fantastic that it’s now under way and hopefully it will get to the bottom of it, find out the truth of what has gone on and give people the justice they deserve.”

Mr Carberry suffered from haemophilia and his brother also died from the genetic disorder after being infected with HIV.

Following the opening statements from QCs representing the various parties in the inquiry last October the chair of the probe and his team spent months poring over mountains of evidence and testimony, with virtually everyone affected, including Coun Wakefield, having been invited to submit written statements.

The contaminated blood scandal has returned to the headlines in recent times after years when it struggled to gain attention.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham devoted his final speech as Leigh’s MP to demanding an inquiry and exploring why the prolonged nature of it meant it had not grabbed public attention in the same way as a disaster like Hillsborough.

Coun Wakefield said she believes the public will be horrified by some of the evidence which will be given.

She said: “The contaminated blood scandal went on over a period of years. Nobody got to see the massive scale of it.

“When they start hearing the stories that come out now they will be shocked by what went on and the cover-up that happened afterwards.

“There’s also still a massive stigma attached to it and a lot of people don’t want to tell their story publicly.

“Times have moved on a lot and people are more understanding but there is definitely still a stigma around the infection.

“When my dad was going through it in the 80s you had the tombstone adverts on TV about HIV and you just couldn’t talk about it.

“I was advised to tell my school friends my dad had died of cancer. It was very much hidden.”