CAMPAIGNERS for those infected by hepatitis C through contaminated blood have claimed an inquiry is a "whitewash" that has not gone far enough, in spite of the near £9 million spent so far.

They questioned why the cost of the inquiry by Lord Penrose should have been borne by the NHS budget. Philip Dolan, convener of the Scottish Infected Blood forum, said concerns over the cost of inquiries should not be used as an excuse for not getting to the truth.

The Herald reported yesterday that the cost of the inquiry into HIV and hepatitis C infections from contaminated blood supplies has reached £8.8 million, with the final report yet to be completed.

Writing in The Herald today, Mr Dolan said: "About 160 people provided written statements and 80 of these people wished to be core participants. Lord Penrose only agreed to 15 being core participants... Why?"

He said campaigners welcomed the SNP Government's decision in July 2007 to set up the inquiry, but "it would be an understatement to say that we were disappointed by Lord Penrose's approach to this inquiry".

He said the setting-up of the inquiry had given hope that hard lessons would be learned, but that "the denial to hear the voices of those infected gives the impression of a whitewash".

He concluded: "The statement about the cost of the inquiry should not be used as an excuse for not getting to the truth. There seems to be no difficulties regarding the costs of the Leveson Inquiry about the media.

"Why the cost-cutting about the deaths of so many people treated by the NHS in Scotland? Christine Grahame and Jackson Carlaw may be correct that there should be a better way of getting to the truth.

"But if the judiciary, which should be independent, fails to see the truth due to being restricted as to cost, what alternative exists? Perhaps the Government does not want the truth to be known."