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Government told to honour transparency as ministers announce compensation for infected blood victims

MINISTERS announced today that victims of the infected blood scandal will receive compensation by the end of the year.

Nearly 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products from the 1970s up until the 1990s. More than 3,000 have since died.

Cabinet Office Minister John Glen said victims will receive an interim compensation payment of £210,000 within 90 days, with a full payment expected by the end of the year.

Bereaved friends and family members are also eligible for compensation, it was announced.

Hepatitis C Trust CEO Rachel Halford said: “While the indications of the announcement are promising, much more detail is urgently needed to clarify who will be able to access financial support and when, alongside clearer information on the future of existing blood support schemes.”

She said the government must “keep its promise that compensation will be delivered swiftly, transparently and fairly” in order to begin to rebuild trust from those affected.

An inquiry into the tragedy published its report on Monday, culminating its five-year investigation.

It found that the scandal “could largely have been avoided” and there had been “chilling” cover-ups.

This included a deliberate decision to destroy Department of Health files which contained material dealing with delays in the introduction of screening blood donations for hepatitis C in 1993.

The report said records also likely went missing due to a “mixture of incompetence, a lack of proper systems and the problems inherent in keeping paper records.”

It accused Lord Ken Clarke of “misleading” the public, prompting calls for him to be stripped of his peerage.

During his time as health secretary, a leaflet was published in 1983 in which he said there was “no conclusive proof” that “Aids may be transmitted in blood or blood products.”

Inquiry chairman Sir Brian Langstaff said: “It was not an accurate reflection of the [Department of Health’s] actual understanding, which was that it was likely that Aids was transmitted through blood and blood products.”

Andrew Evans, chairman of campaign group Tainted Blood, told Sky News today: “Ken Clarke does have a role to play, but he’s certainly not the only one.”

He added that “we need to get to the bottom of who was in charge of licensing the products and who was actually receiving those warnings.”

Martin Reid, who was infected with hepatitis C as a child said: “It isn’t really compensation if all the UK Government are going to do is simply rebrand the current support payments as part of the wider compensation.

“The support payments are what everyone eligible would have gotten anyway without any compensation scheme so the UK Government will have to provide total clarity and justifications if they are to merge the support payments with the compensation scheme.”

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