In Brief

Inquiry launched into contaminated blood scandal

Theresa May announces investigation into deaths of 2.400 people in the 1970s and 1980s

Theresa May has announced an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal that claimed the lives of thousands of people in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the investigation had been prompted by new evidence and would look to establish the causes behind this "appalling injustice". 

He added: "It is a tragedy and a scandal that has caused unimaginable hardship and pain for all those affected."

A parliamentary report found as many as 7,500 NHS patients, many of them haemophiliacs, were infected after being given blood imported from abroad containing Hepatitis C and HIV. At least 2,400 died. 

It was "the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS", says the BBC.

Many of those affected and their families believe they were not told of the risks involved, while others claim there was a deliberate cover-up by the government and health authorities.

Andy Evans, of campaign group Tainted Blood, said: "We have evidence that warnings were ignored and that these products continued to be used despite the warnings and that following the infections… a cover-up." 

The inquiry follows "mounting pressure from members of parliament and others over the circumstances surrounding the deaths", says the Financial Times.

It is not yet clear whether it will take the form of a public, Hillsborough-style inquiry or a judge-led statutory investigation.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it should have the power to trigger prosecutions if evidence emerged of negligence or a cover-up.

He said: "It was obviously a serious systemic failure. I think we need the strongest possible inquiry that can if necessary lead to prosecution actions as a result, but above all get to the bottom of it."

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