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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Legal challenge over Hep C cases
Blood bag
Campaigners have called for a public inquiry
Bereaved families of Hepatitis C victims who contracted the disease through contaminated blood, are taking action against the Scottish Executive.

The families want judges to rule that Scottish Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm is breaking human rights law by refusing to hold a public inquiry.

At least 550 Scottish NHS patients were infected by the virus in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Chisholm said he would consider the legal argument before making comment.

The lawyer for the bereaved families, Frank Maguire, said the action was necessary as there are still many unanswered questions.

Referring to the system which administered blood products, Mr Maguire called for a public inquiry to clear up doubts.

Inquiry call

He said: "Does it have systematic faults? Does it have institutional problems? How does it communicate with each branch of its service.

"Has something gone wrong there which may occur in the future with CJD or HIV? We don't know.

"If there is a systematic failure or institutional failure and a lack of communication and a lack of action by these authorities, then that is of public interest."

Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm will look at the legal argument
To date there has been an internal inquiry into how contaminated US blood products came to be used in the NHS.

But victims said that this had not answered key questions on why blood products in Scotland were treated differently to those in England.

The victims also said that it was unclear what Scottish doctors did when they knew there was a problem and why victims were not told about infection until years later.

Mr Chisholm has stated that he will not sanction another inquiry unless new evidence comes forward.

On Thursday, Mr Maguire said that, legally, the health minister does not have that choice.

Hep C criminal cases ruled out
23 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Hep C compensation plan 'derisory'
23 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Payouts for Hepatitis sufferers
29 Aug 03  |  Scotland

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