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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 15:07 GMT
Hep C criminal cases ruled out
Blood bag
Campaigners have called for a public inquiry
There will be no criminal proceedings in Scotland over the supply of blood products to haemophiliacs, the Crown Office has said.

Hundreds of Scots contracted Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products from the US during the 1980s.

The Crown Office said there was insufficient evidence that any criminal offence has been committed.

Donated blood is now screened using modern techniques for both HIV and hepatitis viruses.

Patients were infected with the potentially-fatal disease from contaminated blood products before proper screening measures were introduced in 1991.

Poor payouts

Following an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament's health committee, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm accepted that compensation payments should be made to sufferers.

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.

But campaigners said the payments compared poorly with the average payout in Ireland of 300,000.

The Scottish Haemophilia Forum (SHF) called for a public inquiry into how the patients contracted Hepatitis C but this was ruled out by the health minister.

The Scottish Haemophilia Groups Forum (SHGF) also condemned the Crown Office decision not to prosecute.

Cover-up

Chairman Philip Dolan, one of 365 Scots haemophiliacs who caught hepatitis from infected blood, said he believed there had been a cover-up.

"This is appalling, is this yet another cover-up?" he asked.

"Do they have something to hide? Why has it taken so long for them to reach this decision?"

"Why is it that charges have been brought against doctors and pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, Canada or France but not here? This isn't justice."

Mr Dolan reiterated his calls for a public inquiry into what he believes is a case of criminal negligence.

He added: "Like many others, doctors tested my blood for hepatitis in 1979 without my consent but didn't tell me I had hepatitis until the 1990s.

There's no evidence of intent to cause harm and no evidence of sufficient recklessness to cause harm
Sheila McLean
Law professor
"They were aware of what was going on so why didn't they tell us?

"That was criminally negligent and there clearly must be a public inquiry."

But University of Glasgow law professor Sheila McLean said she did not think there was a case to answer.

Prof McLean said: "It wasn't known to the health service that blood and blood products could in fact transmit Hepatitis C

"In that circumstance it would be most unusual to be able to bring a criminal prosecution because there's no evidence of intent to cause harm and no evidence of sufficient recklessness to cause harm."


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"Campaigners are angry that no-one will now face trial"



SEE ALSO:
Hep C compensation plan 'derisory'
23 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Payouts for Hepatitis sufferers
29 Aug 03  |  Scotland


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