Gillian Marles, Presenter of Good Morning Scotland opening comments:
Now, for years Hepatitis C sufferers in Scotland have been demanding a public inquiry into how they may have contracted the condition from contaminated blood products. For years they've been told by Ministers that a public inquiry is not justified. But the lawyer representing over a hundred patients, Frank Maguire, argues there will be a public inquiry and soon. I spoke to him earlier and asked him to explain his assertion.
Frank Maguire, Solicitor AdvocateI think the Lord Advocate's not understanding the Law. The Law is that he must hold an inquiry. I'm not asking him this question as to whether he's going to have one or please have one - I'm just basically saying Lord Advocate please comply with the Law, hold a judicial inquiry into these cases because the European Convention on Human Rights says so and so does the House of Lords and by an inquiry I mean a judicial inquiry, a full, independent judicial inquiry.
Gillian Marles Presenter of Good Morning ScotlandBut last night an Executive spokesman said that the information has been reviewed on a number of occasions and that Ministers are of the view that there is little to be gained. Are you saying that that's completely irrelevant then?
Frank Maguire Solicitor AdvocateYes, I think the Ministers don't understand what the Law is and I think what they say is really irrelevant - it's what the Law says. The Law says in circumstances where someone dies in the course of treatment or in the hands of the State - here the NHS - they must hold an independent judicial inquiry. And what the Lord Advocate has to do is do that.
Gillian Marles Presenter of Good Morning ScotlandI wonder though what's to be gained though because compensation's already been offered.
Frank Maguire Solicitor AdvocateThat's very important because these people are not about compensation. If you go to the NHS and you die because of it your relatives want one question answered: 'What happened?' And they want that answered independently, transparently. They have never had an answer to that question and they're dying just now.
Gillian Marles Presenter of Good Morning ScotlandWhat has been the reaction from your clients and their families to these new documents that have come out?
Frank Maguire Solicitor AdvocateThe documents are probably a reason why you should have an inquiry because if there's documents swinging about and allegations made, counter-allegations, it just goes on and on and on. But, if you have an independent judicial inquiry all documents are brought forward, all evidence is brought forward, you can examine and cross-examine, then the judge comes to a conclusion. That's why you need an inquiry, to stop this going on as well as giving people an answer to the question and also the public, what happened, why did these people go to the NHS for treatment, for a transfusion or for a blood product and die because of it?
Gillian Marles Presenter of Good Morning ScotlandAnd the reaction - some of the documents that we've seen, the minutes from the Blood Transfusion Service, are your clients shocked by the detail that's coming out there?
Frank Maguire Solicitor AdvocateWell, I don't think that they're shocked by anything because, you know, they're beginning to think now, and this is another reason why you should have an inquiry, is because people begin to think people are covering up things, people are not giving answers to questions, that there is something there to hide. If you have a judicial inquiry you stop that and if there is something - if someone is hiding something you get to the bottom of it, so this just fuels the requirement as well as there being a legal requirement, it fuels a moral and public interest requirement to have an independent judicial inquiry.
Gillian Marles Presenter of Good Morning ScotlandYour argument has been, as you've been saying, that the same argument - how confident can you be that you'll get what you want at this stage?
Frank Maguire Solicitor AdvocateWell, the Lord Advocate said that he's not in a position to say he's going to have an inquiry; he's going to carry out further investigations as if it is within his gift. But what's now going to happen is that we're now going to go to court. We're going to court to say to the court, the judge, he's not complying with the European Convention on Human Rights, he must hold an inquiry, tell him to do so. That's what the next step is and that will be taken within the next few weeks.
Gillian Marles Presenter of Good Morning ScotlandThat was Frank Maguire.