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Ken Clarke should be stripped of peerage, victims of infected blood scandal say | Politics News

Victims of the infected blood scandal have called for former health secretary Ken Clarke to be stripped of his peerage.

Lord Clarke was heavily criticised in a report by Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of a seven-year inquiry into the scandal that killed more than 3,000 and infected more than 30,000 Britons with HIV and Hepatitis C with infected blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

The politician was a health minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government from 1982 to 1985, then health secretary from 1988 to 1990 before becoming home secretary and chancellor under John Major.

He described the infections in 1985 as “the unavoidable adverse effects which can unhappily arise from many medical procedures”.

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Sir Brian said there was evidence by 1982 that infections were happening through imported blood products, meaning Lord Clarke’s claims “gave false assurances, lacked candour” and were misleading.

Victims have now said Lord Clarke should no longer be allowed to continue sitting in the House of Lords. He was handed a peerage in 2020 by Boris Johnson.

Des Collins, a lawyer representing 1,500 victims, said he should be stripped of his peerage.

“There are a lot who haven’t been singled out, but he was one of them,” he said.

Read more: Who is criticised in infected blood report?

Ken Clarke during the Sky Bet Championship match at The City Ground, Nottingham
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Ken Clarke was made a peer in 2020

And Maria Armour, who contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion in 1981 but only found out in 2004, said: “He should definitely give his peerage up.

“He and Jeremy Hunt should be arrested for their deceit and the arrogance they showed during the inquiry.”

Current government minister Mel Stride told Sky News Lord Clarke has always been “a decent and nice man” to him, and “always been very polite and kind to me”.

But he said he is “concerned” by the points raised about Lord Clarke in the inquiry report and “there are clearly questions that are being posed that need to be addressed”.

However, he said it is not for him to decide if Lord Clarke is stripped of his peerage as that is a matter for the forfeiture committee, which decides who gets admitted to the House of Lords.

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‘There are questions that need to be addressed’

It is very rare for a peerage to be removed as it requires an Act of Parliament, however victims think he should give up his peerage voluntarily.

Victim Andrew Evans, chairman and co-founder of campaign group Tainted Blood, told Sky News: “I think Ken does have a role to play, but he’s certainly not the only one.”

Lord Clarke was also accused in the report by of being “somewhat blasé” when he gave evidence to the inquiry about the collection of blood from prisoners as late as 1983.

His manner was described as “argumentative”, “unfairly dismissive” and “disparaging” towards those who have suffered, with Sir Brian saying he played “some part” in that suffering.

The Thatcher government, as well as subsequent governments and health secretaries, continually said infections were “inadvertent” and patients were given “the best treatment available on the then current medical advice”.

The inquiry report concluded that was not true and said the factual basis for the claim was unclear.

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