SURVIVORS of haemophilia treatment at Treloar College and relatives of some pupils who died after receiving blood plasma infected with HIV and hepatitis are suing the school.
They claim the Holybourne boarding school – now known as Treloar’s – failed in its duty of care to its haemophiliac pupils in the 1970s and 1980s by allowing them to be given experimental treatment at an NHS clinic on the site without informed consent.
Collins Solicitors lodged a group action in the High Court last Friday on behalf of the 22 survivors and 14 relatives. The claim is based on new testimony given by former school staff to the ongoing infected blood inquiry.
Adrian Goodyear, who along with lead claimant Gary Webster still lives in Alton, criticised the school.
He told the Herald: “They took no interest in what we were injected with.
“As a result there were three outbreaks of hepatitis and one of HIV.
“Not one member of staff had a conversation with our parents under the loco parentis agreement we all signed.”
Mr Goodyear explained that the revelations which came out at the inquiry finally persuaded the survivors to take action against Treloar’s.
He said: “We all thought long and hard about this. We had no idea about the level of research and testing going on at the college until last year.
“What didn’t really help us at all in our psychology was that the head doctor was meeting the headmaster once a month, or even once a week, yet we had hepatitis and HIV and no-one was calling our parents for 15 years.
“No parent would have agreed to us being researched on. We were guinea pigs. They knew the dangers of American concentrate in 1982 but carried on for three more years.
“We knew there were trials but we had no idea our parents didn’t sign into them. My mum was sent one piece of paper once. It said: ‘Do you consent to your child taking part in a trial?’ We were pretty much on our own.”
Last year at the inquiry, former headteacher Alec Macpherson confirmed doctors were “experimenting with the use of Factor VIII”. He said: “We didn’t have any authority or reason to interfere. You can’t – doctors are god, aren’t they?”
Mr Macpherson said he consented to the treatment because he trusted the doctors and could not recall if parents were informed and consulted.
Desmond Collins, a senior partner at Collins Solicitors, said: “The school was acting in loco parentis yet failed in its basic duty of care. There was a fatal lack of curiosity.”
In a statement, Treloar’s said: “We are truly saddened that about 100 of our former pupils are among the 4,500 men, women and children across the UK who were infected with hepatitis and/or HIV from infected blood products supplied within the NHS treatment programme.
“We are unable to comment on the legal action taken against Treloar’s at this point, but we will continue to co-operate with the public inquiry into these issues and await its outcome.”