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Norfolk victims hope for justice as contaminated blood inquiry starts

An inquiry into contaminated blood will start today. Pic: NHS Blood and Transplant/PA Wire

An inquiry into contaminated blood will start today. Pic: NHS Blood and Transplant/PA Wire

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An inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal which left at least 2,400 people dead is to begin.

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.

People from Norfolk are among those who have been affected and the Eastern Daily Press has been campaigning for more than two years over the issue.

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

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.

Much of the plasma used to make the product came from donors such as prison inmates, who sold blood which turned out to be infected.

Three days of preliminary hearings are scheduled to start in London today (Monday). The inquiry is expected to take at least two-and-a-half years.

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