On the 7th July 1999 a small group of people infected and affected by contaminated blood products gathered outside the new Scottish Parliament to protest and demand justice. Many of those early campaigners died waiting for justice.
To mark the anniversary two of surviving protestors (Bruce Norval and Bill Wright) met with some of the remaining MSPs from that first session for a commemorative photograph. The long serving MSPs present included former Cabinet Secretaries and Party Leaders; Shona Robison MSP, Alex Neil MSP, Johann Lamont MSP, and Bruce Crawford MSP. The current Minister responsible Joe FitzPatrick MSP also attended.
Bill Wright’s closing statement from his evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry on Friday is a good explanation of why the campaign is still so necessary.
Commenting, Dan Farthing, CEO of Haemophilia Scotland said,
“It is striking that this anniversary falls in the middle of the first Scottish hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry. This week and next some of the survivors of those early campaigns are giving evidence about the horrific impact of these infections. You would need a heart of stone to listen to people recounting the devastation these infection have caused and not to weep for their losses.
“Since that early protest a lot has happened in the campaign in Scotland. Tragically, many campaigners and friends have been lost to the viruses. However, the campaign has strengthened over the years. We now have close ties with those infected through blood transfusion which were forged in the joint effort to secure a Scottish Public Inquiry which became the failed Penrose Inquiry. We now work with the Scottish Infected Blood Forum to fight for justice, compensation, and to make sure all relevant lessons have been learnt from the disaster.
“The campaign very much started with excluded and ignored infected people and their families demanding to be heard. Through their tenacity, and the use of petitions, committees, expert groups, the courts, and Public Inquiries, we have now secured a meaningful dialogue.
“We have a productive relationship with Scottish Government which has helped secure the establishment of a Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme and significant improvements in support payments for infected and affected people in Scotland.
“However, that progress has none nothing to reduce the passion of Scottish campaigners to finally bring the campaign to a successful conclusion. Historic damages must be paid to those who have lost so much, appropriate support must be guaranteed, and lessons learnt to make sure no other community suffers a similar fate.”
Bereaved families in Scotland are raising money to commemorate those we have lost and the suffering the infections have caused. Find out more and contribute to the Contaminated Blood Memorial Fund.