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Hope for justice as inquiry into contaminated blood scandal which killed Dagenham man starts

PUBLISHED: 12:09 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:39 24 September 2018

Barry Farrugia died after contracting HIV from contaminated NHS blood products, pictured with son Tony Farrugia

Barry Farrugia died after contracting HIV from contaminated NHS blood products, pictured with son Tony Farrugia

Archant

An inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal which left at least 2,400 people dead has begun today.

Tony Farrugia (left) and Christopher Smith outside the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of the court hearing. Both men's fathers died from Aids contracted from contaminated blood products,  Picture: Archant/Emma YouleTony Farrugia (left) and Christopher Smith outside the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of the court hearing. Both men's fathers died from Aids contracted from contaminated blood products, Picture: Archant/Emma Youle

The probe will consider the treatment of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV, and the impact this had on their families.

The contaminated blood scandal involves the use of contaminated blood products donated through high risk sources.

Victims of the health disaster include Tony Farrugia, who lost his father Barry, of Whitebarn Lane, Dagenham, and two uncles Victor and Davis to the scandal.

Barry suffered from the blood clotting disorder haemophilia and first showed symptoms of HIV infection in July 1984 after Factor VIII treatment.

Barry Farrugia died after contracting HIV from contaminated NHS blood products, pictured with son Tony FarrugiaBarry Farrugia died after contracting HIV from contaminated NHS blood products, pictured with son Tony Farrugia

Much of the plasma used to make the product came from US donors such as prison inmates, who sold blood which turned out to be infected. Barry died from Aids in 1986 aged 37.

Tony has campaigned for answers and compensation for his family.

His auntie Angela, who lives in Newham, has also been battling for justice alongside her nephew.

Grandmother Brenda Buzer, of Kingsley Close, Dagenham, contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion and died in 2015 at the age of 81.

She had told the Post: “I got something through no fault of my own.

“I do feel a bit bitter about it because I think to myself, there’s all my family I’ll have to leave.”

Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the inquiry, previously said it would examine whether there had been an attempt to cover up the scandal.

According to the terms of reference, which were published in July, the inquiry will consider “whether there have been attempts to conceal details of what happened” through the destruction of documents or withholding of information.

It will also consider if those attempts were deliberate and if “there has been a lack of openness or candour” in the response of the government, NHS bodies and other officials to those affected.

Prime minister Theresa May announced last year that an inquiry would be held into the events over the two decades, when thousands of haemophiliacs and other patients in the UK were given infected blood products.

The announcement was welcomed at the time by campaigners, who have been pressing for years for an inquiry into the import of the clotting agent Factor VIII from the US.

Three days of preliminary hearings will take place and the inquiry is expected to take at least two-and-a-half years.

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