THE First Minister has formally apologised to the Scottish victims of the infected blood scandal, committing to work with the UK Government on a compensation scheme.

Around 3000 people are believed to have been affected by contaminated blood north of the Border between the 1970s and 1991, with the chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry, former judge Brian Langstaff, describing it as a “calamity”.

The final report of the inquiry was published on Monday and was followed by apologies from the Prime Minister and a commitment to compensation.

On Tuesday, Tory Cabinet Office Minister John Glen said he recognised that “time is of the essence” as he announced that many will benefit from further interim compensation payments within 90 days.

The National: Cabinet Office minister John Glen speaking at the Institute for Government conference in central London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Glen (above) also confirmed that the first full compensation payments to victims of the infected blood scandal will be made before the end of the year – and that friends and family members of those infected would also be eligible under the scheme.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament after the Tory minister’s announcement at Westminster, Swinney paid tribute to those who were infected and campaigners, saying it was a “disgrace” they had to “work so hard” for justice to be done.

He added: “The fact that they had to work so hard and for so long is an utter condemnation of those who have put obstacles in the way of the truth being revealed.”

Swinney’s apology was the second from a first minister made in Holyrood to those affected by infected blood, after Nicola Sturgeon did the same following the publication of the final report of the Penrose Inquiry into hepatitis C and HIV infections caused by the use of blood products.

READ MORE: We were lied to, say victims of contaminated blood scandal

The First Minister committed his Government to support UK ministers to deliver the necessary compensation, as well as “take the necessary steps” to ensure a “rebalancing of the system” in considering the report’s recommendations.

Watching from the public gallery was Bill Wright, a constituent of Swinney, who he said was among the first to visit him when he was elected to Westminster in 1997.

“Bill contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. He has faced – and continues to face – acute health challenges as a result of this treatment,” the SNP leader said.

“It has had an overwhelming effect on his life and the family who love him.

“But despite this intense level of suffering, Bill, with enormous dignity, has campaigned tirelessly for justice on behalf of Haemophilia Scotland to secure justice for those who have been affected.”

The National: "Bill" in the Holyrood gallery with his partner as John Swinney paid tribute to his hard work

He added: “Without the leadership and unrelenting work from individuals like Bill, this report would not have happened. This truth would not have been exposed. This justice would never have been secured.

“Having walked on this journey with my constituent Bill Wright for these last 27 years, I am humbled that he is now able to hear, directly from his local Member of Parliament, now this country’s First Minister, the direct and unreserved apology from government for the suffering that he has endured.”

The First Minister’s apology was welcomed across the chamber, with Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross saying the report was a “complete and utter vindication” of campaigners.

“Lives were ruined, many people died never to witness the justice and recognition they deserve,” he said.

READ MORE: Infected blood scandal involved 'pervasive' cover up, inquiry finds

Turning to compensation, Ross said: “No amount of money can compensate for the impact this has had on the victims still alive today, or the children that have grown up without a mum or dad, or a parent who grieved the loss of a child.”

The Scottish Tory leader gave a commitment to support the First Minister and Government with what they need to ensure compensation from the UK-wide scheme is delivered as quickly as possible.

And Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar reiterated the First Minister’s apology, describing the report as “damning”.

“We as a collective are truly sorry for the pain that people have suffered and for the failures of politicians, clinicians and the state to keep them safe over decades,” he said.

The Labour leader went on to say that “too many institutions” in Scotland still try to protect their relationships rather than admit mistakes, asking the First Minister what his Government can do to “end that culture”.

The First Minister pledged to do “everything I can” to improve the culture in public institutions.