The inquiry into the infected blood scandal should learn from the “chilling” lessons of the Hillsborough football disaster, a lawyer representing almost 250 victims has said.
David Lock QC told the Infected Blood Inquiry that his clients “believe that there are lessons” to be taken from the investigation into the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans.
His firm, Leigh Day, is representing 241 core participants as the inquiry examines how people were treated with blood products contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s.
The inquiry has heard the number infected could go “far beyond 25,000”.
Mr Lock said initial investigations into Hillsborough struggled “because of inadequate disclosure of the records”.
He added that it was the persistence of the families which eventually resulted in justice.
He said: “Those who were closely involved with the events knew that the ‘official’ account was far from the whole truth, and yet many also knew that the real story of the events which led to the Hillsborough tragedy had not yet been told.
“The families of the 96 also knew the truth had not yet been told and were a thorn in the side of the establishment for year after year.
“But – and this is the chilling lesson we invite this inquiry to focus upon – the families were repeatedly right and the establishment was repeatedly wrong.”
Mr Lock concluded: “My clients are entitled to believe that there are lessons that this inquiry can learn from that process.”
The inquiry has pledged it will consider “whether there have been attempts to conceal details of what happened” through the destruction of documents or withholding of information.
Also, on Tuesday more victims of the scandal gave statements to the inquiry.
Michelle Tolley, 53, contracted Hepatitis C from blood transfused in 1987 and 1991 after childbirth.
She said of her infection: “The impact has been one of devastation, destruction and ultimately death.
“Those responsible for this tragedy must be identified, must be held responsible for their actions, and prosecuted if necessary.”
Della Hirsch, whose son Nick died after contracting Hepatitis C from haemophilia treatment, accused authorities of being “engaged in a complicity of silence” over the issue.
She said: “So many medical professionals did not share these suspicions, and at the same time, made it impossible to ask questions or raise doubts.
“Science screwed us.”
She believes “both medical professionals and others – including the Department of Health – involved in blood products, were engaged in a complicity of silence” about the possibility of infected blood.
The inquiry continues.