St Albans blood scandal victim one of 500 suing Government

Factor VIII was often contaminated with diseases.

Factor VIII was often contaminated with diseases. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans mum is one of 500 NHS blood scandal victims given leave to sue the Government.

Nicky, who prefers to only use her first name, was one of thousands of haemophiliacs in the 1980s treated with Factor VIII - an effective plasma treatment derived from a melting pot of blood donors.

The treatment was imported by the NHS from abroad, including the United States where prisoners and drug users were paid to give blood. If any one of the thousands of people who contributed blood had an infectious disease, whole batches was contaminated.

It is estimated about 4,600 haemophiliacs caught hepatitis C and 1,243 contracted HIV - fortunately, although Nicky tested hepatitis C positive in 1991 she had recovered by 1997.

More than 500 people have now been granted the right to sue the Government without delay. Those seeking damages include victims and the families of those who have already passed away.

Jason Evans is the lead case through Watford law firm Collins Solicitors - past settlements blocking victims from pursuing legal action have been discounted.

Nicky said: “It’s good news, I have to say. It’s really good for all the victims, of course I still want the inquiry to ask why the things were done when they knew the risks? But it’s a huge step forward, it’s welcome news.”

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She said the High Court judge’s decision to allow the case validates evidence victims have known about and campaigned over for a long time.

In an episode of the BBC’s Panorama series early this year, it was revealed that the risks of Factor VIII were known well before its widespread use was curbed. At the time, patients’ blood started to be tested without consent or knowledge.

Nicky was tested in 1991, but only found out her diagnosis in 1995.

In July Prime Minister Theresa May conceded to campaigners and announced a new public inquiry would take place. Before this, there had been some compensation, apologies, and a previous inquiry in 2009.

Nicky has never been compensated because she did not fit qualifying criteria.

When announcing the new inquiry, Mrs May said it was an appalling tragedy: “The victims and their families who have suffered so much pain and hardship deserve answers as to how this could possibly have happened.”