ALL we want is justice and truth.These desperate words were cried bi an infectit bluid products victim at the Scottish Pairliament in 2004.

It is nou awmaist a year syne publication o the Penrose Inquiry intae the contaminatit bluid products tragedy, a day notable fir the angry response bi victims o an atrocious medical scandal. “Whitewash.” “Barely rational.” “A piece of nonsense.”

Haemophiliacs an thair faimilies wha had ettled ower lang years fir answers stood justifiably astonished at the paucity o accoontability in Penrose. This global tragedy, a viral trail o corruption, criminality, negligence an human rights outrages, is scandal on an industrial scale. Tae gie an idea, syne the 1970s an 1980s, some 523 haemophiliacs yaisin NHS-prescribed Factor 8 and Factor 9 bluid products in Scotland wir infectit wi Hepatitis C, HIV and a mixter o ither pathogens, resultin in some 240 fatalities. The figures fir the UK are c 2,000 and 4,700 respectively. Extrapolate tae the warld pharmaceutical domain an these numbers become truly horrific. Naethin tae report here in Scotland, houaniver. Move alang. Ye’ll have had yir inquiry.

Despite this hammer-blow tae expectations anent Penrose, Haemophilia Scotland an its community, in-towe wi the Scottish Government, hae been placed tae evaluate an pursue financial settlements fir victims on the hin-end o Penrose, descrived bi Haemophilia Scotland as “an inclusive process of discussion/negotiation involving both government officials and patient/family representatives.” At the time o scrievan this article they are hopefu that Holyrood will sune annunce a substantial spend on pay-oots, an that these will win intae bank accoonts wi’oot further delay. This is favourable whan contrastit wi the situation in England, Wales an Northren Ireland, whaur fears are high that Westminster is poised tae mak cuts tae allowances fir NHS treatment-poisoned haemophiliacs. Yet anither despicable attack on this maist ostracized an lang-sufferin community.

Victims in Scotland nanetheless remain mistraucht ower the failins o Penrose. Whaur dis aw this leave say Robert Mackie, wha as a patient at the Edinburgh Haemophilia Centre wis prescribed wi a new coorse o Factor 8 in March 1984. This particular batch wis gien tae 33 haemophiliac patients wha, unbeknown tae thaim, were pairt o an “Aids Study” group set up bi haemophilia consultant Dr Ludlam in 1983. At that time ther had been nae incidence o whit wis then kenned as HTLV III (HIV/Aids amang haemophiliacs in Scotland. Waein twa month o receivin his treatment, Robert reportit pains tae his chist an throat. Bein cried tae regular appyntments tae provide bluid an skin samples, whiles experiencin dwynin halth, Robert’s HIV positive diagnosis wis revealed tae him in January 1987. His diagnosis had been kent tae his consultant syne, at the latest, early November 1984. Rab and his wife Alice, through thair ain dogged investigations, wid discover tae ther horror some years later that he had played an unwitting pairt in the Edinburgh Haemophilia Cohort, ‘one of the most extensively studied groups of HIV infected individuals in the world.’ He had watched a cousin and uncle an several freends die frae this disease and its horrific complexes, whiles thair samples, he discovert, were likewise routinely yaised in the same clinical research programme. Whaur then are Penrose’s probing questions intae the provenance an rationale ahint this hideous episode in recent Scottish medical history?

Whit role wis played bi the National Institute of Health in America at the ootset o this research?

Whit role wis played bi the Medical Research Council in the UK?

Why, whan Dr Ludlam wis presentit wi an unambiguous moral and ethical choice on whether or no tae directly inform patients o thair HIV infections – defined as Option 1 and Option 2 – were patients infectit wi a highly transmissable sexually infectious disease no promptly telt ther diagnosis?

Why has Mackie’s claim – that in 1985 Dr Ludlam wrote tae government authorities seeking ethics approval tae study infected patients and that his patients knew aboot the research and had agreed tae participate – no been thoroughly investigated?

These questions an so many mair. Scottish health minister Shona Robison recently stated: ‘The enduring physical and psychological impacts of these infections are made very clear.’ Why is it then, whan being sent, post-Penrose, a swade o unanswert questions and instances o apparent inconsistency in records in relation tae the Edinburgh Haemophilia Cohort, the Scottish Government is effectively slammin the door on any line o inquiry or concerns? They write. ‘Considerable time and resources were devoted to the inquiry and a huge amount of evidence was gathered and assessed.’ ‘Assessed’? In whit context, exactly? In a city that has seen the biggin o a Pairliament go ower budget tae the tune o £314m, and its trams project bi £375m – wi expensive inquiries intae owerspends tae boot – is £12m tae be the cap on vital questions anent life, death, dignity and suffering? Wha in government will hae the daicency an resolve tae demand that the richts and concerns o oor maist vulnerable an disempowered citizens are no ainly addressed, but are paramount? Ocht less is cowardice. If the Scottish Government truly believes in closure fir haemophiliacs it will accommodate vital questions arisin frae Penrose. Aw they waant is justice an truth.

Hamish MacDonald is author of Factor 9, a play about the contaminated blood scandal based on the testimonies of Bruce Norval and Robert Mackie.