Hepatitis C sufferers infected by contaminated NHS blood products have condemned a decision not to hold a public inquiry.
Malcolm Chisholm said no to a public inquiry
The angry reaction follows a meeting in Edinburgh between members of the Scottish Haemophilia Forum (SHF) with Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm.
The organisation has been putting its case for an inquiry into the affair, which left about 600 Scots suffering from the potentially-fatal liver disease.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said the minister did not see the need for a public inquiry at present.
The SHF said the minister had thrown out its demands entirely.
Solicitor advocate Frank Maguire, a lawyer representing hepatitis C
sufferers, said the discussions had gone "very badly".
Mr Maguire said: "Having regard to the fact that in Scotland we have about 600 people who have been affected by hepatitis C, we asked the minister for a public inquiry but he has refused.
"I think that's quite appalling, given that the bodies who would have to be
investigated are the Blood Transfusion Service, the health service and the
minister's department itself.
"What have we got a Scottish Parliament for if 600 of our citizens are
infected with the hepatitis C virus by going to the health service and he turns
round and says we're not having an inquiry into it?"
Dave Bissett, vice-chairman of the SHF, said: "I just cannot understand how
they can infect just under 600 people with a potentially killer virus and then
find there's no need for a public inquiry."
A scheme of payments for those who contracted the virus announced earlier this year by the health minister was also criticised by the campaigners.
Under the terms of the scheme, those suffering the effects of the virus are
entitled to £20,000, with a further £25,000 for those who have gone on to
develop chronic conditions such as liver cancer.
The relatives of those who die after the executive announcement was made are also entitled to payments.
Mr Maguire insisted the conditions attached to the payments should be
broadened - but said Mr Chisholm had refused to budge.
He said: "He's not going to give any increase on the payments.
"He's also set against paying anything to people whose relatives have died.
"We put to him the fundamental injustice, but he just said 'that's it', and
didn't give us any justification."
However, the executive insisted the minister had not ruled out a public inquiry.
"He does not see the need for a public inquiry at present," said a spokeswoman.
"The minister has made clear that he will look carefully at any new evidence
he is presented with."