Composer wins a rethink over cash for blood victims

| Apr. 17, 2010 |

Published by The Times

Girish Gupta and David Rose

An award-winning composer who contracted HIV and hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood from the NHS has won a legal challenge over potential compensation worth thousands of pounds.

Andrew March, 36, had sought a judicial review quashing a government decision not to award compensation to victims of a contaminated blood scandal on the same level as those in the Republic of Ireland.

An independent inquiry last year called for a review of payouts to those who contracted HIV and hepatitis in the 1970s and 1980s through transfusions with blood that was not adequately treated before use. Ministers refused, promising those with HIV only £12,800 a year.

A High Court judge ruled yesterday that the Government’s approach “has been, and remains, infected by error”.

The 2009 inquiry by Baron Archer of Sandwell found that 4,670 haemophiliacs were infected with hepatitis C, with 1,243 of those also infected with HIV. By May last year, almost 2,000 people had died as a result, and £142 million had been paid to victims.

The inquiry recommended that British victims be compensated on the same level as those in Ireland, where those who contracted hepatitis C were paid on average £750,000 and those infected with HIV received £101,000.

The Government has previously refused, arguing that the Irish blood transfusion service was found to be at fault, which was not the case in Britain.

Mr Justice Holman said that this argument was flawed. The Department of Health said it would consider the position arising from this decision.