Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker - Missing records point to cover-up over infected blood

Issue No. 2679

Thousands of people were given contaminated blood or blood products in the late 1970s and 1980s

Thousands of people were given contaminated blood or blood products in the late 1970s and 1980s (Pic: Pic: Factor 8 Campaign UK)


The number of missing medical records, and patients whose HIV test results were withheld, are proof of a high level Whitehall cover-up, a senior lawyer has claimed.

The first phase of the Infected Blood Inquiry closed last week.

It heard from 189 victims and ­families and received more than 1,400 ­written statements over six months.

Thousands of NHS patients in the 1970s and 80s were treated with ­clotting agents or transfusions derived from donated blood that was ­contaminated with HIV, hepatitis C or both.

More than 2,400 died as a result.

Sir Brian Langstaff, the inquiry’s chairman, pledged in his closing remarks that he would “name names” if it found wrongdoing.

Victims have reported that HIV and hepatitis tests were carried out ­without their knowledge in the 1980s.

Several told the inquiry that they were only informed years later of their positive results.

Many victims told the inquiry that they had found sections of their ­medical records missing from the time that they were treated.

Solicitor Des Collins represents some 800 affected families. He said, “If you want your medical records and can’t get them you might think there’s ­nothing sinister in it.

“When you then find there is a whole group of people whose records are missing, you begin to sense a cover-up.

“You think a subject has arisen that the Department of Health did not want people to become aware of.”

He added, “For that many medical professionals to act in the way they did must indicate that someone told them to do it. It was a directive. That must have come from fairly high up.”

The mass infection of NHS patients, mainly young haemophiliacs, may have been seen as a “public health issue” where you “have to keep quiet about it otherwise you will scare the ­community,” Collins said.

The inquiry’s second phase will begin in February and hear testimony from medical experts.

A third phase will call officials and politicians to seek answers on what they knew about infection risks and when.


Trial hears Duckenfield’s ‘sole thought’ was save lives

David Duckenfield’s “sole thought” when ordering a gate to be opened during the Hillsborough football disaster was to save lives, a trial has heard.

Duckenfield was South Yorkshire Police match commander during the 1989 disaster that killed 96 Liverpool football fans.

Duckenfield denies 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

His retrial is underway at Preston Crown Court.

Under the law in 1989, Duckenfield can’t be tried over the death of the 96th victim as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were sustained.

The court heard last week that he felt he had no option but to open a gate to the stadium to relieve a crush that had built up outside it.

Duckenfield accepted that he gave no thought as to where the fans would go after entering the inner concourse.

Many of the fans who entered went down a tunnel into pens 3 and 4, where the fatal crush occurred.

The court heard evidence that Duckenfield had accepted that he didn’t have a basic knowledge of the stadium layout.

He gave no instruction to block access to the tunnel.

The jury also heard last week that Duckenfield had claimed that fans had “forced” the gate open.

Former Football Association official Glen Kirton said Duckenfield had said this led to an “inrush of spectators”.

The jury was previously told that Duckenfield admitted this was a lie, when he gave evidence to the inquests into the deaths.

One member of the jury was discharged on Friday of last week.

The trial continues.


Asbestos in beer caused cancers

Asbestos-laced beer from the 1970s is being blamed for a quadrupling of gullet cancer cases.

Scientists fear poisoned pints may be behind the rise in tumours over the last five decades —90 percent in men.

Deadly asbestos was widely used to filter out impurities from beer and other alcoholic drinks until the 1980s.

Some pubs used to add handfuls of the lethal substance to the “slops” that were left at the end of the night.

It cleaned the beer before it was served to unsuspecting customers the next day.

Experts at Cambridge and Liverpool universities suspect exposure to asbestos in pints is likely to have sparked the fourfold rise in cancer of the gullet, the tube carrying food from the throat to the stomach.

Liverpool researcher Dr Jonathan Rhodes said, “Asbestos from beer consumed before around 1980 seems a plausible factor.”

Gullet cancer, known as oesophageal cancer, now kills nearly 8,000 people.


£72 million spent to send poshos to school

The Ministry of Defence spent more than £72 million last year and the Foreign Office £13 million so that children of armed forces parents and diplomats posted abroad can be educated at posh schools in Britain.

Some £295,000 of Foreign Office money went to Eton, £163,000 to Winchester, £119,000 to Rugby, £97,000 to Charterhouse and £79,000 to Westminster.

Another £153,000 was spent on Prince Charles’s old school Gordonstoun.

lbankrupt James Stunt allegedly supplied Prince Charles with fake works of art that were claimed to be worth £100 million.

US art forger Tony Tetro claims he painted an image of water lilies, supposedly a £50 million Monet original, which was hanging at the prince’s Dumfries House.

Two other paintings, a £42 million Picasso and a £12 million Dali, are also in doubt.


Boring business lobby plan

Philip Hammond has vowed to create a “Tory Momentum” campaign.

The former chancellor was stripped of the whip for opposing Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans and is threatening to run as an independent candidate in the general election.

He wants to set up a lobbying group of young business leaders to change the character of the Tory party.

With Hammond in charge it will no doubt be exciting.


Misuse of public funds?

The government has been accused of misusing public money to target voters in key swing constituencies with Facebook ads.

At least 17 adverts promising up to £25 million investment in towns across Britain went out on the day the general election was announced.


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