New Forest East



New Forest couple Lesley and Ray Hughes thank MP Sir Julian Lewis after revolt over amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill

By Carolyn Griffith

Lymington Times – 8 December 2023

A New Forest couple living with the “nightmare” of the NHS infected blood scandal have thanked a Forest MP whose revolt helped defeat a government vote on the matter.

Sir Julian Lewis was one of 22 Conservative MPs to rebel and vote in favour of an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, tabled by Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson earlier this week. The amendment will require the government to set up a body to administer compensation within three months of the bill becoming law.

Lesley Hughes was given contaminated blood after a serious car crash in 1970. As a result, she unknowingly contracted hepatitis C, which led to cirrhosis of the liver and subsequently liver cancer. Husband Ray told the A&T they were “extremely pleased and grateful” for the New Forest East MP’s support. He added:

“We’re very pleased that enough MPs got behind this but it makes me angry that the government have to be forced to do it.”

The scandal, now the subject of an inquiry, unfolded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, after around 4,800 people with blood-clotting disorder haemophilia were given blood infected with HIV and hepatitis C. In addition, many others like Lesley were infected with hepatitis C through receiving blood transfusions during the same period, although it is not known exactly how many were infected.

Lesley received 45 pints of blood after the crash but discovered she was infected in 2014 only by “pure chance”. Ray explained Lesley had suffered bouts of illness throughout her life and it was on one occasion when a doctor visited their home to give an injection that her condition was discovered. In 2020 she was diagnosed with liver cancer and underwent surgery. Although she is now cancer free, Lesley must undergo six-monthly check ups. Ray explained:

“There is no guarantee it won’t come back, but she is as well as can be expected.

“It has been a nightmare, and the compensation will never take away the worry she faces.”

Lesley would like “justice” and hoped prosecutions would be brought against those responsible.

Ray added:

“The information that has come out so far shows there was a cover-up and it has resulted in the deaths of many people.

“I am sure the government will say lessons will have to be learned – but how many times have we heard that before?”

The government had previously said there was “a moral case” for compensating victims of the scandal. However, it said it wanted to wait for the inquiry to conclude before payments were made. The inquiry, chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff, was originally due to publish its final report last month, but is now expected to deliver its findings in March.

Sir Julian told the A&T:

“Since my constituents, Mr and Mrs Hughes, first contacted me in 2014, I have supported campaigns on behalf of the victims of the contaminated blood disaster.

“They were gravely injured by the NHS decades ago, and given inadequate support by successive governments. There can be no justification for further delay."