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TV drama on infected blood could mobilise ‘sense of injustice and outrage’

A van carrying a message about infected blood victims outside Central Hall in Westminster (Jeff Moore/PA)
A van carrying a message about infected blood victims outside Central Hall in Westminster (Jeff Moore/PA)

A TV drama on the infected blood scandal could mobilise the “sense of injustice and outrage” following the publication of a damning inquiry into what has been called the biggest treatment disaster in the NHS.

ITV has commissioned a series, written by Peter Moffat, who won two Baftas for BBC series Criminal Justice, to dramatise the experiences of those with blood disorders who were infected during the 1970s and 1980s with HIV and hepatitis C.

The channel had previously released Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which led to renewed attention on justice for subpostmasters who were wrongly prosecuted during the Horizon IT scandal.

Separately, The Crown star Seb Carrington, who has haemophilia, is working on a series set around the boys who contracted hepatitis at Treloar College, a school for disabled children with a facility on site for haemophiliacs.

He told the PA news agency that there needs to be more money put into “television and dramas because it’s the way to reach into people’s lives, grab their attention and show them something” when asked about ITV saying that the Post Office series lost the broadcaster around a million pounds, despite the success.

Carrington, 31, said: “We’re able to be empathetic in that way and then that can mobilise … some sort of sense of injustice and outrage and (allow people to) get a sense of what’s happened and only then can you start to make power accountable.”

He lost his brother James, who contracted hepatitis through the scandal in the 1980s as a haemophiliac and later died in a car accident.

Carrington also said he thinks a drama will play an important role in trying to “show the strength and resolve of the people that have been through this pain and this terror and the shame” and have “still somehow managed to stand up fighting”.

The actor, who has at Central Hall in Westminster, London, where the inquiry findings were revealed, said there is a “feeling of vindication” from the adults who were children at Treloar.

The inquiry concluded that the schoolchildren were used as “objects for research” and given “multiple, riskier” treatments.

The British Academy Television Awards – Press Room – London
Peter Moffat, second right, after Criminal Justice won the award for drama series at the Baftas (Ian West/PA)

Carrington also said it is “difficult to say at this point” how the report’s conclusions can be dramatised.

“I don’t think today should be seen as the kind of drawing the line in the sand. You know, for some people, they want closure,” he added.

“But I don’t know if you can ever really have closure from something like this.

“I don’t know some of these people that have been campaigning, they’ve been working with for so many years, decades on this it’s … like quite a psychological upheaval, if they decide at this point that they are going to stop, but I don’t think that they will, because we’ve yet to see what the government is going to say and it might not be satisfactory.”

Carrington is writing a speech with Moffat on “what justice is” as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to make an apology in the House of Commons on Monday.

“We need the apology, and then we also need the accountability,” he said.

“And that, unfortunately, is something that will never fully be achieved, because it can’t, after all this time.”