LAWYERS acting for hundreds of Scottish victims in the contaminated blood scandal will today demand answers for those killed, bereaved and sickened by the NHS disaster.

Barrister Aidan O'Neill QC will deliver a 38-page opening statement as the long-awaited UK public inquiry into the use of blood products infected with HIV and Hepatitis C on the NHS enters its second day.

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Peter Henderson, a spokesman for personal injury experts Thompsons Solicitors, who are instructing Mr O'Neill on behalf of 250 Scottish families and victims, said the previous Penrose Inquiry had left "unfinished business". 

He said: "There was a very detailed analysis of factual, scientific issues which dealt to some significant extent with what happened, but it really failed completely to address the 'why'.

"It addressed to some extent what happened but it certainly didn't fully address how it happened or why.

"There was an over-reliance on expert scientific evidence to the significant detriment of evidence presented by victims themselves, and secondly a total lack of analysis about what was said, of challenging the evidence.

"Instead, statements about how things were back in the day in the medical community were accepted at face value, rather than analysing if that's how it should have been."

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At least 4,689 people, many of them haemophiliacs, were sickened by blood products imported from the United States in the 1970s and 80s where prisoners, sex workers, drug addicts and other high-risk groups were paid to give blood.

The catastrophe is estimated to have killed around 2,800 people across the UK, including some 30 children at the former Yorkhill children's hospital in Glasgow who were infected with HIV from tainted blood products.

Campaigners in Scotland want answers as to why hundreds of patients in Scotland were given contaminated, imported blood products when Scotland had enough available in NHS supplies to meet demand.

Dan Farthing-Sykes, CEO of Haemophilia Scotland, said: "In England, a big part of the inquiry is why weren't they able to meet the demand for blood products - they never became self-sufficient.

"In Scotland, we didn't have that shortage. We had the choice of a commercial product or using a Scottish NHS product, but we still did use a commercial product and the question is 'why were you paying for it when there was a free NHS product?'

"All the children infected with HIV in Yorkhill were children treated with the American product."

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The new UK-wide inquiry, which is expected to last two to five years, comes three years after Scotland's Penrose Inquiry into the scandal was branded a "whitewash" after it said few matters could have been handled differently and made only one recommendation.

Unlike Penrose, the UK inquiry will broaden the scope of infections to include Hepatitis B, CJD, and blood-borne viruses linked to an increased risk of cancer.

It will also examine if and what steps were taken to cover up the scandal, something side-stepped by Penrose Inquiry but which Mr Farthing-Sykes said is "critical" to survivors and the bereaved.

Retired High Court judge, Sir Brian Langstaff, who is chairing the inquiry, said witnesses would bring "different perspectives" in their evidence.

He added: "It cannot be just a favoured few, or for that matter a favoured many, who are at its heart.

"Those wishing to attribute blame, those who wish neither but just seek to understand why what happened did, or to explain their actions - why they did what they did.

"Those who are haemophiliacs, those who were transfused with infected blood, or those who were both; those who were patients or those who were doctors - all are people, all are entitled to be heard.

"And I would ask all participants to respect that entitlement, however unpalatable they may find some of the ideas or explanations, or accusations or assertions being put forward."