Letters: The infected blood scandal brings shame on the British establishment

Lord Clarke of Nottingham misled the public over the dangers of infected blood products, an inquiry has found
Lord Clarke of Nottingham misled the public over the dangers of infected blood products, an inquiry has found - Getty Images Europe/Paul Gilham
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SIR – The Infected Blood Inquiry, which has concluded that an institutional cover-up took place (telegraph.co.uk, May 20), is utterly damning of Britain’s Civil Service and government.

As with the revelations emerging from NHS whistleblowers (report, May 17) and the inquiry into the Post Office Horizon scandal, these findings have shown the country that Whitehall and other institutions act as though they are above the law.

There have been too many innocent victims for serious action not to follow against those responsible. In addition, there is an urgent need to make unelected government officials publicly accountable. This will, of course, require a wholesale shake-up of everything for which Whitehall stands.

Kim Potter
Lambourn, Berkshire


SIR – I have just listened to Sir Brian Langstaff on television telling the horrific story of how huge numbers of lives were lost because of the use of infected blood. 

Sir Brian’s report contains the names of many of the politicians – some of them famous – and civil servants responsible. As a matter of urgency these people should be investigated and, if possible, prosecuted. The dead deserve nothing less.

Major Colin Robins
Bowdon, Cheshire


SIR – The thousands of competent and conscientious NHS staff who go above and beyond in their daily work must, like the rest of us, be asking how people within the health service and Civil Service allowed the infected blood scandal to occur.

This appears to be yet another example of highly paid administrators and managers being more concerned about their reputations than those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, because of their actions. 

It would not surprise me in the least if some are still enjoying inflated salaries or pensions. 

What other problems are being covered up?

Stephen Howey
Woodford Green, Essex


SIR – I sometimes shout at the television or radio when things are said that I do not agree with. 

Following the publication of Sir Brian Langstaff’s report, I fear that, if I ever again hear the NHS referred to as a jewel in Britain’s crown, I shall be unable to restrict myself to merely shouting.

Jim Watts
Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire


SIR – Reading about the compensation to be provided for victims of this scandal, I am prompted to ask: is any action going to be taken to recover money from the American blood suppliers?

Terence Newman
Hyde, Cheshire


The Butcher of Tehran

SIR – The death of Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran (report, telegraph.co.uk, May 20), has deprived the Islamic Republic of one of its key assets, given that he was deemed a likely successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. But it has also removed a poisonous tyrant from Iranian society. Raisi was a key member of the so-called death committee, which was responsible for killing thousands of political prisoners in 1988. 

He played a major role in the crackdown on student protests from 1999 onwards, overseeing the torture and killing of more Iranian citizens. He similarly supported the brutal suppression of the Green Movement in 2009, as well as the clampdown on the more recent “hijab protests” in which the security services maimed and executed vast numbers of innocent people. He was the face of the regime’s inhuman treatment of political dissenters, women and religious minorities, rightly earning him the monicker “the Butcher of Tehran”. 

The civilised world must now stand with the people of Iran in demanding an end to the ayatollah regime and all its criminal leaders.

Dr Jeremy Havardi
Director, B’nai B’rith Bureau of International Affairs
Pinner, Middlesex


Registered bicycles

SIR – Simon Heffer’s suggestion that bicycles should carry number plates (Comment, May 19) is of course not new. In fact it pre-dates the compulsory registration of motorised vehicles by more than eight years. 

The following comments from the chairman of Tynemouth Petty Sessions in June 1895 demonstrate just how old the idea is. A rogue cyclist had provided a false name and address when stopped by a policeman. The chairman berated this “most shameless piece of conduct” and continued: “There would never be safety for the public until the registration of bicycles was brought into vogue, so that the machines, at all events, could be noted and identified.”

In the same month, the first internal combustion-engined car to be driven on British roads made its debut.

Nicholas Young 
London W13


Telling the Tyne

SIR – My husband grew up in Northumberland and Whitley Bay, and I moved to Newcastle in 1986, having had an Army upbringing. 

Neither of us has a local accent (Letters, May 20). Whenever we have been on holiday, however, and told anyone where we are from, we have always been asked why we don’t have the accent.

We now say Northumberland, as it shuts off this irritating question.

Julie Hewitt
Newcastle upon Tyne


SIR – When I arrived in Adelaide in 1992 on a Commonwealth teacher exchange with Reynella East High School, I was greeted by the head gardener, a Vietnam veteran, who waved a sharp machete at me and shouted: “So you’re the bloody Pom, are you?” I later learnt that this was a friendly greeting.

When the students invited me for a game of Australian rules football in lieu of lessons, I had caught the oval ball and was running with it, when the gardener suddenly sprinted from behind his shed, bunches of keys jangling from his waist, and tackled me hard to the ground. 

Nobody dared touch his plants – ever.

Robin Sanderson
Oxford


Water firms’ error

SIR – Iris Hedgecock (Letters, May 20) overlooks the fact that the privatisation of the water industry was supposed to free the new companies to borrow on the stock markets rather than, as in the past, plead for funds from the Treasury.

Water and sewage being largely underground and out of sight put them at the back of the queue, and any major works were never going to receive investment from the Government.

The tragedy is that the water companies, like the railway companies, have fallen into the hands of foreign investors who have pocketed the dividends but feel they are not responsible for the improvements required. The water regulator is exceptionally weak and appears unable to enforce action. 

It is just as well that our Victorian ancestors built so well. But the vast increase in the population and the deterioration over time of any infrastructure – however well constructed – have caught up with us.

Nicholas Wightwick
Wrexham, Denbighshire


SIR – Paul Knocker (Letters, May 20) complains that no reservoirs have been built for more than 30 years. 

If he stood on a chair in his home in Bembridge and looked north, he could probably see the reservoir under construction in Havant Thicket, only 12 miles away on the mainland. The work is progressing well.

Alan Hakim
Havant, Hampshire


Idyll of Gibraltar

SIR – It is to be hoped that all the people discussing the future of Gibraltar (report, May 19) have actually spent time there. 
Gibraltar is unique and the people wonderful. To be there is like enjoying the best of Britain 40 years ago. 

Box-ticking, ill-informed politicians of either Britain or the EU must not be allowed to ruin this idyllic place.

Maggie Hughes
Gnosall, Staffordshire


Common scents

SIR – Your Leading Article (May 20) on France’s new “scratch and sniff” stamps asks what national dish of ours could be immortalised in this manner. 

“Rosbif”, I think.

Michael Allisstone
Chichester, West Sussex


SIR – Chicken tikka masala, obviously.

Mike Forlan
Hayling Island, Hampshire


Service at the bar is fundamental to the pub

The Princess of Wales Pub, Trafalgar Square: Mrs Francis behind the Bar (1931) by Malcolm Drummond
The Princess of Wales Pub, Trafalgar Square: Mrs Francis behind the Bar (1931) by Malcolm Drummond - www.bridgemanimages.com

SIR – If Ben Cheshire, the landlord of the Coronation pub in Bristol, doesn’t like serving customers at the bar, then perhaps he is in the wrong job (“Pub puts a premium on a pint at the bar”, report, May 18). Surely the whole point of running a pub is to interact with people. 

Roger Jackson
Stockport, Cheshire


SIR – I was recently in a pub in central London that had two card machines next to each other on the bar, one to pay for drinks and the other for staff tips (“How US-style tipping came to Britain – and sparked a backlash among customers”, Business, May 18).

Roger Gentry
Weavering, Kent


A perception of injustice in the Premier League

SIR – Pundits are saying that this season’s Premier League was the most exciting ever (Sport, May 20). Maybe so, but it is an artificial excitement. 

Everton and Nottingham Forest had points deducted for financial irregularities and had to battle against relegation. They may have deserved this, but why has nothing been done about Manchester City – a club with more than 100 offences being investigated? If it had suffered the same, then Arsenal, which has played by the rules, would have come top. 

If I managed Arsenal, I’d be very disgruntled.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall


SIR – Never mind the Premier League voting on getting rid of VAR (Sport, May 16) – give the fans a vote on it.
It’s our game, despite our clubs being sold to foreign money men with no love for it or its history.

John Kennedy
Hornchurch, Essex


SIR – As most VAR decisions involve players being offside by a toenail, the solution is simple: follow hockey’s lead and dispense with the offside rule, and also then VAR. 

Leave the rest to the referee and assistants.

John R M Prime
Havant, Hampshire



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