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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Police report on tainted blood
Blood donation - generic
Infection occurred in the 1970s and 80s
Prosecutors are to consider whether there should be a criminal investigation into the medical disaster which left hundreds of Scots infected with hepatitis C.

Contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 80s led to the infection of 500 haemophiliacs with hepatitis C and other blood-borne viruses, including HIV.

A report, prepared by Strathclyde Police Detective Superintendent Stephen Heath, was handed over to officials at the Crown Office in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

It will now have to decide whether the evidence warrants a criminal investigation.

Untreated blood

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: "The Crown Office has received the report from Strathclyde Police seeking instruction on whether there should be a full investigation into these matters and, if so, the extent of that investigation."

If an investigation goes ahead, it could lead to the questioning of doctors and health service officials involved at the time.

The cases arose when clotting agent Factor 8 was produced from the untreated blood of thousands of donors, with a high risk of passing on viruses.

By the late 1980s every haemophiliac in Scotland had been infected with hepatitis C.

Andrew Gunn
Andrew Gunn has been infected nearly all his life

The NHS has said it was working on ways to make blood products safe, eventually perfecting the process in 1987.

Some hospitals also bought Factor 8 from the US, despite the fact its domestic licence had been withdrawn.

Those affected claim the health service should have paid more attention to growing evidence that Factor 8 was not safe.

Haemophiliac Andrew Gunn prompted the current investigation with a letter to senior police officers.

Mr Gunn was first treated at 18-months-old and now has hepatitis C and HIV.

Liver disease

"The government has fought to prevent any independent investigation - its always been the government investigating the government," he said.

"I think if we can get a clear picture we can get the facts and can talk about compensation."

Investigations into contaminated blood products in Canada, France and Japan have led to senior health figures, and even government ministers, facing trial.

Hepatitis C is known to cause chronic liver disease and to attack the body's immune system.

BBC Scotland's Eleanor Bradford
"Everyone from doctors to former health ministers could be questioned"

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25 Feb 03  |  Scotland
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17 Jan 03  |  Scotland
Minister intervenes in Hep C row
17 Jan 03  |  Scotland

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