HARROWING evidence is expected to be heard next week when the Infected Blood Inquiry sits in Edinburgh.

At least 24 witnesses who were infected or who are the loved ones of those who were infected are due to be called when the inquiry sits in the Scottish capital from July 2-11.

Now the biggest public inquiry ever to be held in the UK, it has already heard from witnesses in England and Northern Ireland.

READ MORE: UK HIV and hepatitis blood infection probe under way

Jason Evans, whose father died after being given infected blood, said the evidence that had been already heard had been “harrowing” and he expected Edinburgh to be no different.

“Witnesses are regularly breaking down in tears and I have noticed that even the legal team questioning them are having to hold themselves together at times,” said Evans, who was four when his 31-year-old father died.

He added: “The fact that the inquiry is coming to Edinburgh shows that it truly is UK-wide. Everyone is hoping it gets to the truth which the Penrose Inquiry failed to do.”

The contaminated blood scandal saw nearly 4000 people in the UK, mostly haemophiliacs, infected by HIV and/or Hepatitis C by a commercial plasma-derived medicine known as Factor VIII. At least 31 partners of those people were infected with HIV.

So far at least 1500 haemophiliacs are estimated to have died as a result of infected Factor VIII – which campaigners say is the largest loss-of-life incident in the UK in recent years.

The infected product was made by mixing together many thousands of plasma donations and the products were sold as Factor VIII Concentrate.

The UK imported most of the products it used from US pharmaceutical companies during the 1970s and 1980s. Products that were given to UK patients at the time included Factorate, Hemofil, Kryobulin, Profilate, Koate and BPL. The companies that produced infected concentrates during this period were then subsidiary companies of Bayer, Revlon Healthcare, Baxter, BPL, Immuno AG and Alpha Theraputics.

The victims and their families have campaigned for many years for the Government and pharmaceutical companies involved in the manufacture and supply of Factor VIII to people with haemophilia in the 1970s and 1980s to accept liability for what happened and the truth placed on public record.

No inquiry has ever been held in England, Wales or Northern Ireland until now and Evans said the Penrose Inquiry, which was launched by the Scottish Government and reported in 2015, had been a “whitewash”.

“It failed to get to the truth,” he said. “The sentence that sticks in my mind was that ‘little could or should have been done’.

“The number one goal of our campaign for this UK-wide inquiry is for it to find that a lot could have been done and should have been done differently.”

He said that while the Penrose Inquiry had examined only a few cases, the current inquiry had so far heard from around 60 victims or their representatives.

“There should be at least 24 witnesses in Edinburgh with more to be heard elsewhere in the UK by the end of the year so it is already much bigger,” said Evans.

He added: “This year the focus is very much on the victims and their families before the inquiry moves on to doctors and politicians.

“What they are trying to find out is not so much their opinion of what happened but the impact it had on them and their families.”

The hearings can be viewed on the Infected Blood Inquiry’s YouTube channel.

Although it was announced in July 2017 by Theresa May, the hearings did not begin until this year due to a series of missed deadlines and delays by the UK Government. Victims also faced restricted legal funding which has hampered progress, according to the campaigners.