Penrose Inquiry will not allow more witnesses

Bruce Norval will not give up his fight for justice. Picture: TSPL
Bruce Norval will not give up his fight for justice. Picture: TSPL
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THE inquiry into how hundreds of people in Scotland were infected by contaminated NHS-supplied blood products will not let more expert witnesses take to the stand, it was revealed today.

Lord Penrose today refused an application from the Haemophilia Society to reopen the oral hearings stage to call expert witnesses on the topic of statistics.

But the chair of the inquiry said he will now take further written evidence from witnesses who were named at the procedural hearing - who have yet to give evidence.

The Penrose Inquiry, set up four years ago, is the Scottish public inquiry into Hepatitis C and HIV acquired infection from NHS treatment in Scotland with blood and blood-related products.

The decision comes after an application from Thompsons Solicitors - which represent many of the patients, relatives and the Haemophilia Society - last month to call or recall five expert witnesses.

The inquiry has already held 89 days of hearings and heard from more than 60 witnesses, including a number of closed sessions where patients and relatives gave evidence to the inquiry anonymously.

It is looking at whether or not enough was done to protect patients and staff at the time of the contaminated blood scandal in Scotland.

The Haemophilia Society says only 20 victims have given evidence - out of more than 150 believed victims who have submitted statements.

Many infected patients have learned the blood they were given was taken from prison inmates and that it was not adequately screened or treated to make it safe for use.

Bruce Norval, who was given infected blood, told how he would never give up fighting for justice - despite his deteriorating health.

The former welfare rights officer told how he has to get tested for cancer every three months, he is so weak he is constantly having to rest and how he is forced to vomit at least once every day.

The father-of-two, of the Black Isle, said: “This seems to be nothing but lip service now. This has been a fight of more than two decades for me and many others and it is heart breaking to think this inquiry might not even attempt to find out the extent of this scandal - a scandal which has already killed hundreds and infected many hundred, if not thousands, more.”

Lord Penrose’s final report will be published next year.