Tainted blood widow had to sign over 58% of her home to get a support loan: HIV victim was accused of ‘wanting to have her cake and eat it’ by government-established charity
- Bryan Walton dying from Aids when he was ordered to give 58 per cent of house
- He and his wife Clair were told to give the percentage to Macfarlane Trust
- Startling example of injustice faced by more than 7,500 patients infected
A couple infected during the tainted blood scandal had to sign over more than half their home to get support payments.
Bryan Walton was dying from Aids when he and his wife Clair, who contracted HIV from him, were ordered to give 58 per cent of their detached house to the now-defunct Macfarlane Trust.
When Mrs Walton tried to question the arrangement after the death of her 34-year-old haemophiliac husband in 1993, employees at the trust described her as wanting to have her cake and eat it, letters show.
The correspondence is a startling example of the injustice faced by more than 7,500 patients infected with HIV and hepatitis at the hands of the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s.
Bryan Walton was dying from Aids when he and his wife Clair, who contracted HIV from him, were ordered to give 58 per cent of their detached house to the now-defunct Macfarlane Trust
Victims and their families have never been given formal compensation because the Government has not admitted liability. Instead they have been forced to jump through hoops to access discretionary support payments and meagre living allowances.
Theresa May is under growing pressure to put in place a fair scheme for victims infected with hepatitis C or HIV during the scandal – and for grieving families. With one victim dying every four days, campaigners and the leaders of seven opposition parties have appealed to the Prime Minister to act before many more patients die without receiving a fair deal.
Mrs May’s official spokesman said extra cash had already been provided to help victims, but said ministers had not ruled out further support. He said: ‘The PM has been clear that the contaminated blood scandal was a tragedy causing unimaginable pain and hurt for both victims and their families.’
The 57-year-old said the couple were desperate in 1989 when they called the Macfarlane Trust – one of a series of charitable organisations set up by the Government to provide support
Mr Walton was told he had HIV and Aids in 1985 after receiving infected clotting products in his youth.
He went on to infect his wife with the virus after doctors said it was fine for them to try for a baby at a time when little was known about HIV. Mrs Walton is one of dozens submitting evidence to the long-awaited public inquiry, which will hear from victims in Belfast today.
The 57-year-old said the couple were desperate in 1989 when they called the Macfarlane Trust – one of a series of charitable organisations set up by the Government to provide support.
Her husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer, as a result of his HIV, and told he had just 18 months to live.
But instead of giving them a grant to cover their household bills, the trust said the only way they could help was with a loan of £50,000 in exchange for a 58 per cent share of the house in Warwickshire. ‘There was no other option,’ she said. ‘We had very little money coming in. There was no negotiation.
Mr Walton was told he had HIV and Aids in 1985 after receiving infected clotting products in his youth
‘The trust put a man who was dying of Aids … under extreme duress to sign over our home to keep a roof over our heads.’
She said she was treated like dirt by officials who questioned her eligibility for assistance, pointing out that she did not have haemophilia or hepatitis C but had a house and was childless. ‘That was like a punch to the face. I didn’t have children because my husband had HIV and was dead,’ she said.
‘The overall management of the trust was abysmal and for some of us they were very cruel.’
She said she was treated like dirt by officials who questioned her eligibility for assistance, pointing out that she did not have haemophilia or hepatitis C but had a house and was childless
Internal documents obtained under data protection laws revealed that employees described her as ‘a lady who wants to eat her cake and still have it’. Another letter, which was written to her, said: ‘Give some consideration to the fact that you are but one of hundreds of people looking to us for assistance.’
When the trust was shut down in 2017 her loan was switched to the Terrence Higgins Trust. It has now been written off – 30 years on.