John Major's 'bad luck' comment is 'absolutely disgraceful' says son of victim

Sir John Major giving evidence at today's Infected Blood Inquiry.

Sir John Major giving evidence at today's Infected Blood Inquiry. - Credit: INFECTED BLOOD INQUIRY

Thousands of victims of the infected blood scandal suffered “incredibly bad luck”, former prime minister Sir John Major has told an inquiry today (Monday).

Audible gasps could be heard from those present at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London after former Huntingdon MP, Sir John suggested no amount of money could have offered a true level of compensation for what had happened and described what happened as "bad luck".

Tony Farrugia's father Barry died in September 1986, at the age of 37, from the related causes of the HIV virus. He was given Factor 8 concentrate from imported blood to treat his mild haemophilia.

He was treated for viral Hepatitis in 1977 and went on to develop Hepatitis B and C, and HIV. Barry, a father-of-five, suffered huge physical, mental and emotional distress in the last few months of his life. 

Tony, who lives in St Neots, said: "John Major's comment is disgraceful and disgusting. This is not bad luck, it was well known in medical circles and in the health ministry that these products were dangerous. 

"The pharmaceutical companies were more worried about their profits and they and the Government ignored the endless warnings from really well documented evidence that was available.

"The only bad luck is that people have been caught out after more than 40 years' of campaigning by families and the Factor 8 group." 

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Thousands of people contracted HIV or Hepatitis C, and in some cases both, from contaminated blood and blood products in what has been described as the biggest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Sir John was asked about a letter he wrote in November 1987, when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in which he said: “I have to say that, although in terms of equity there might seem to be some gains to be made from a positive response, it would seem to have very real dangers.

“How could such a precedent be ring-fenced? It could lead to an open-ended commitment of huge dimensions.

“Might it not give rise to court action against the Government because of the implication of negligence?

“Have the law offices given a view on the possible consequences of a sympathetic response?

“I do not feel that we can afford to offer such a response until the pros and cons have been thoroughly considered."

Asked about the letter during the public inquiry, Sir John said he was pointing out that the pros and cons must be considered, including how much compensation should be offered.

He described the effects of the scandal on victims as a “horror”, adding: “There’s no amount of compensation you can give that could actually compensate for what had happened to them.

“What had happened to them was incredibly bad luck – awful – and it was not something that anybody was unsympathetic to.”