PEOPLE from the Portsmouth area will attend a commemoration service in London today to mark the start of an inquiry into an NHS blood scandal.
Jackie Britton and Alan Vickers will be among hundreds of others travelling to the capital for the long-awaited investigation.
It comes after thousands of people contracted HIV and hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood in transfusions in the 1980s and 1990s.
Jackie, from Portchester, is a victim after having a blood transfusion during childbirth. She will be one of hundreds giving evidence in the independent inquiry chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff.
Her close friend Sally Vickers, from Landport, died last summer from cancer caused by hepatitis C after she had several transfusions as a teenager.
The 56-year-old’s husband Alan will join Jackie in London for the commemoration and launch of the inquiry.
Speaking last week, Alan said: ‘I want to know everything now, I need answers as to why I lost my wife. We want someone to be held accountable for what happened.
‘Sally should have lived a longer life. It is too late for her to get justice but there are thousands of others who deserve it.
‘That is why I continue to fight. We will get justice for Sally and everyone else.
‘She wasn’t someone to just sit by, she was fighting alongside Jackie and we will carry on that fight.’
A solicitor representing hundreds of victims said the inquiry into the scandal, which left at least 2,400 people dead, is a day few thought they would never see.
Chairman Sir Brian previously said the probe would examine whether there had been an attempt to cover up the scandal, and has promised a ‘thorough examination of the evidence’.
Des Collins, of Collins Solicitors, which represents more than 800 victims, their families and eight campaign groups, said the inquiry is critically important.
‘For those affected, their families and the campaign groups this is a day few thought that they would ever see - and it is a testament to those who have campaigned so hard to make it a reality,’ he said.
‘The feeling among our many clients is that they felt the government had washed its hands of them, but now those responsible - both in government and at pharmaceutical companies - will be held to account.’
According to the terms of reference, published in July, the inquiry will consider ‘whether there have been attempts to conceal details of what happened’ through the destruction of documents or withholding of information.
It will also consider if those attempts were deliberate and if ‘there has been a lack of openness or candour’ in the response of the government, NHS bodies and other officials to those affected.
The inquiry is expected to take at least two-and-a-half years.