Hundreds of infected blood victims suing Government over ‘misfeasance’

Around 500 victims have put their name to the lawsuit.

Victims and campaigners outside Central Hall in Westminster
Victims and campaigners outside Central Hall in Westminster (Jeff Moore/PA)

Victims of the infected blood scandal have restarted legal action against the Government, with their lawyer claiming there was a “misfeasance in public office”.

The civil litigation, brought against the Secretary of State for Health, concerns imported blood-clotting products which caused haemophiliacs and others to be infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s.

It was put on hold in November 2018 but has been relaunched following the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry report, with around 500 victims putting their name to the lawsuit.

Sir Brian Langstaff’s 2,527-page report found the scandal “could largely have been avoided” and that there was a “pervasive” cover-up to hide the truth.

Sir Brian Langstaff with the Infected Blood Memorial (Big T Images/Infected Blood Inquiry)
Sir Brian Langstaff with the Infected Blood Memorial (Big T Images/Infected Blood Inquiry) (Big T Images/Infected Blood Inquiry/PA)

Misfeasance is a civil offence relating to alleged misuse or abuse of power by a public official or authority causing loss or harm to a third party.

Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors – which represents 1,500 victims, said: “What we did say when we launched this action was that everything the Government had done was wrong and not only was it wrong, they covered it up and lied about it.

“And of course, the report supports that view that the victims took all those years ago.

“So it’s an action against the Government for misfeasance in public office.”

In a separate action, around 50 former pupils of Lord Mayor Treloar College, where boys with haemophilia were given contaminated blood in the 1970s and 80s, are suing the specialist school for an alleged failure of its duty of care.

Of the pupils that attended the Lord Mayor Treloar College in the 1970s and 1980s “very few escaped being infected” and of the 122 pupils with haemophilia that attended the school between 1970 and 1987, only 30 are still alive.

The report found children were used as “objects for research” while the risks of contracting hepatitis and HIV were ignored.

Alec Macpherson, who was the headmaster at Lord Mayor Treloar College
Alec Macpherson, who was the headmaster at Lord Mayor Treloar College (Infected Blood Inquiry/PA)

Survivors, known as the Treloar’s boys, said in a joint statement that “there is nothing honourable about what happened” at the school, calling on former headmaster Alexander Macpherson to “do the right thing” and return his OBE.

Mr Macpherson was headmaster from 1974 to 1990.

Steve Nicholls, 57, from Farnham, Surrey, who attended the school between 1976 and 1983, said: “We fully accept that Treloar’s is a unique case.

“We have been referred to as the darkest chapter within the Infected Blood Inquiry and for us to get recognition and justice for all the haemophiliac boys and their families we feel it is necessary to pursue it through the courts now.”

On Mr Macpherson, he added: “Someone has to take accountability, it happened on his watch, he was responsible for his staff and the wellbeing of his pupils.

“Our parents handed over the care of us, their children, giving Treloar’s full loco parentis of their child and they chose to withhold very important information that could have saved their son’s lives.

“That was a choice…they knew what they were doing, they chose to not contact those parents and give those parents a choice of the treatment and keep them fully up to speed of what was actually going on behind those four walls.”

On that legal action, Mr Collins said: “It’s the deliberate killing of 70 or 80 pupils, which you can only say quickly because it’s so horrendous if you actually dwell on the words.”

Rishi Sunak called the exploitation of children at Treloar’s a source of “eternal shame” that is “hard to even comprehend” in a statement to the House of Commons last week.

The Prime Minister issued a “wholehearted and unequivocal” apology to the victims of the biggest treatment disaster in the NHS, vowing that “comprehensive” compensation will be delivered “whatever it costs”.

According to Government documents, people living with an HIV infection as a result of the scandal could receive between £2.2 million and £2.6 million.

A Government spokesperson said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal cases.”

Treloar’s has been approached for comment.