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Highland campaigner vindicated as UK government announces compensation scheme for infected blood scandal victims

By Val Sweeney

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Infected blood scandal campaigner Bruce Norval has finally been vindicated.
Infected blood scandal campaigner Bruce Norval has finally been vindicated.

A Highland campaigner who has spent 33 years trying to expose the truth behind the UK infected blood scandal has spoken of the “stolen years”.

Bruce Norval was finally vindicated this week after a scathing report concluded that the tragedy affecting thousands could have been avoided and found the NHS and government to be culpable.

Mr Norval (59), of the Black Isle, was among 30,000 victims - including 3000 in Scotland - who were infected with HIV or hepatitis C mainly in the 1970s and 80s from receiving transfusions during surgery, or through products created using blood plasma and imported from the US to treat haemophiliacs.

About 3000 have since died and the number continues to rise.

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Mr Norval, of Fortrose, was diagnosed with haemophilia aged three and subsequently tested positive for Hepatitis C and other active viruses in 1990 after receiving infected blood.

Speaking from London today as the government revealed a new compensation scheme for people affected by scandal, Mr Norval reflected on the decades-long battle.

“It’s not just the stolen years from me,” he said.

“It’s the stolen years from my parents, the stolen years from my wife who had to work so we could have a decent house and future.

“I have not been been able to work since I was 27 years old.

“I have had large chunks of my life where I did not physically function.”

The compensation scheme was announced the day after a 2527-page report concluded authorities covered up the scandal after knowingly exposing victims to unacceptable risks.

Sir Brian Langstaff, who chaired the investigation, said the calamity could “largely, though not entirely, have been avoided” – but successive governments and others in authority did not put patient safety first.

Mr Norval found reading the report’s findings had been emotional.

Much of his campaigning work for the last five years has been carried out from his sick bed.

“I had the computers set out on my bed for 10 hours a day and I read documents and new research,” said Mr Norval who likened his campaign to a full-time job.

“I have been called a conspiracy theorist.

“I have been marginalised. I have been called an unhelpful and a disruptive patient.

“I have been slagged off in academic papers.

“Yesterday, when I saw my work coming back at me through the eyes of the judge, I felt I have not wasted 33 years.

“It is not just about lost time for me. There are 3000 dead haemophiliacs who should not have gone through poverty and hardship for the rest of their lives.”

Mr Norval was in the UK Parliament today as Cabinet Office Minister John Glen said a final compensation scheme was being set up and some victims would receive interim payments of £210,000 from the summer

Payments will be made to people who were directly infected, as well as other people affected by the scandal, including partners and children

In cases where people who would be entitled to compensation have died, the money will go to their estate.

Ahead of the announcement on the compensation scheme, Mr Norval said those affected had not been supported over the years to allow them normality - such as being able to afford to replace a carpet, or get access to a shower.

“Basic things attached to human dignity were denied us,” he said

“Yes, it is going to be a lot of money.

“Money is not the main point here. It is the ability of victims to determine how the rest of their lives are going to be spent which is what is important - a life of control and a life of choice.

“As we get older and sicker and die, we need to have as much choice and comfort and respect as we need to preserve what dignity we deserve after a life of abuse.”

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