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Dagenham family say 'justice is one step closer' as contaminated blood inquiry chair is appointed

PUBLISHED: 15:31 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:14 08 February 2018

The Farrugia family pictured (from left) Vincent, Angela, Madeleine and Tony Farrugia. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Farrugia family pictured (from left) Vincent, Angela, Madeleine and Tony Farrugia. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A high court judge will lead a long-awaited new public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, the government has announced today.

Tony Farrugia (left) at a protest outside Parliament over the contaminated blood scandal in 2016. Picture: Steve BartramTony Farrugia (left) at a protest outside Parliament over the contaminated blood scandal in 2016. Picture: Steve Bartram

Victims of the health disaster - including families from Barking and Dagenham - have welcomed the appointment of Mr Justice Langstaff as chairman.

But they accused the government of delays over the length of time it has taken to appoint an inquiry chair.

A spokesman for campaign group Tainted Blood said: “Whilst welcoming today’s announcement we also remember the 49 contaminated blood victims who have died since the announcement of the intention to hold an inquiry seven months ago.

“We sincerely hope that Sir Brian keeps urgency in mind moving forward, so that as many people as possible survive to see the inquiry’s resolution.”

Dagenham gas technician Barry Farrugia died after contracting HIV from contaminated NHS blood products, pictured with his son. Picture: Supplied by the Farrugia familyDagenham gas technician Barry Farrugia died after contracting HIV from contaminated NHS blood products, pictured with his son. Picture: Supplied by the Farrugia family

Prime Minister Theresa May first announced the new probe into the health disaster in July last year.

Mr Justice Langstaff will take up the post on May 1 after retiring from the High Court.

He promised a “thorough examination of the evidence” behind the major scandal which saw thousands of haemophiliacs and others die after being given tainted blood or blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

The blood was riddled with HIV and hepatitis C and around 2,400 people have so far lost their lives due to the viruses they contracted.

Angela Farrugia lost three brothers - Barry, Victor and David - to contaminated blood. Picture: Nigel Sutton Angela Farrugia lost three brothers - Barry, Victor and David - to contaminated blood. Picture: Nigel Sutton

“Providing infected blood and plasma products to patients truly deserves to be called a major scandal,” Mr Justice Langstaff said.

“I intend, through this inquiry, to be able to provide both some well-needed answers to the victims and their families, and recommend steps to ensure that its like will never happen again.”

He will consult people affected by the disaster on the inquiry’s terms of reference before taking up the role full time.

Tony Farrugia, who lost his father Barry, of Whitebarn Lane, Dagenham, and two uncles to the scandal, said: “Finally our road to justice begins after 31 years. We are very pleased with this announcement and now want to proceed as soon as possible.

Brenda Buzer, who contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion, pictured with her husband Stan before her death in 2015. Picture: Ken MearsBrenda Buzer, who contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion, pictured with her husband Stan before her death in 2015. Picture: Ken Mears

“The truth must be told for the victims, their families, and to ensure this never happens again.”

The family of grandmother Brenda Buzer, of Kingsley Close, Dagenham, have also previously called for answers over the disaster following her death in 2015 from hep C contracted through a blood transfusion.

The inquiry appointment was announced by Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, who said: “I am determined that this independent inquiry will give victims and their families the answers they have spent decades waiting for.”

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