A quick update on what the Warnings from the Archive team have been listening to/reading/watching this week. The pieces that have caught our interest and develop the themes and topics explored by the project.
Margot has been listening to the Telegraph’s Bed of Lies podcast. The series investigates and hears from the victims of a contaminated blood scandal. The scandal, which occurred in the 1970s and 80s, resulted in 4,700 people suffering from haemophilia being infected with HIV and Hepatitis C in hospitals. This was an unknown result of a treatment they were being given. The treatment required administering Factor VIII to patients, a concentrated form of the eponymous protein, lacked by haemophiliacs, which stopped bleeding. However, much of the UK’s supply of Factor VIII came from the US, from plasma collected in Los Angeles at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. The blood was often infected, and the plasma has since played a significant role in the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C to already medically vulnerable men.
This podcast has been published alongside the Infected Blood Inquiry which now seeks to uncover how this gross oversight was made. The scandal stretches far wider than just these men however, as these diseases can be transmitted both sexually and through the transfer of blood between people. There is already an England Infected Blood Support Scheme that offers compensation to the victims of this scandal. The inquiry is ongoing, some want criminal charges to be filed, other would just like the truth. However, despite the best efforts of the inquiry to shed more on this topic to light, it is unlikely that real justice will be given to those affected.
Becca has been listening to The Presidents and Prime Ministers podcast with Iain Dale, specifically the episode on Tony Blair. The podcast has an episode focussed on all 55 British Prime Ministers and, in its second season has gone onto discuss each of the Presidents of the United States. This podcast is great for anyone looking to gain just that bit more insight into these political figures and features key historians and public figures who are experts on – or who have worked with – these politicians. The Tony Blair episode is obviously very topical for the WFTA team due to Blair’s role in the Iraq War. The podcast is insightful as it focuses on far more than Blair’s action in Iraq, discussing his childhood, his rise through the Labour Party and his involvement in the Northern Ireland peace treaties.
Catriona has been reading further discussions about the recent release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iranian prison. Alistair Burt, an ex-Conservative MP has now called for an inquiry into the case of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe as it has come to light that the UK government has been aware of the debt – the payment of which was contingent to her release – for many years. Mr Burt, following his role as Middle East Minister between 2017 and 2019, has said that he is willing to give evidence in public or private and would be happy to provide his ministerial papers to an inquiry as they show his advocacy for paying the debt. Once again this brings into question the impact and effect of public enquiry in holding politicians accountable for their actions. Some believe that, despite Mr Burt’s eagerness, the majority of UK politicians will be hesitant to agree to such an inquiry as it will expose the extent to which UK’s policy on Iran was dictated by pressure from the Trump administration.