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Charity made man dying of Aids sign over part of home, probe told

Mrs Walton told the Infected Blood Inquiry they applied for support from the Macfarlane Trust, set up by the Government in 1988 to support haemophiliacs affected by the scandal (stock photo)
Mrs Walton told the Infected Blood Inquiry they applied for support from the Macfarlane Trust, set up by the Government in 1988 to support haemophiliacs affected by the scandal (stock photo)

By Imogen Cooper

A husband dying of aids and his infected wife were forced to sign over a share of their home to get the cash they needed to survive, an inquiry has heard.

Clair Walton married severe haemophiliac Bryan in 1983 but within four years they had both been diagnosed with HIV after he contracted the virus from contaminated blood products.

Mrs Walton told the Infected Blood Inquiry they applied for support from the Macfarlane Trust, set up by the Government in 1988 to support haemophiliacs affected by the scandal.

She said they initially received a response suggesting they needed debt counselling.

Mrs Walton eventually called the trust in "desperation" and was told she and her husband would be given some money but "there ain't any more where that's coming from".

"It was like getting a stabbing," she said. "I was shocked - utterly shocked - by the way I was spoken to and the way I was treated, given this was an organisation set up to help us.

"It was as if we were not entitled to apply - as if we were dirt."

Mrs Walton said she and her husband managed to get some small grants for essentials, but her husband's health began to deteriorate in 1989 after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

This forced him to give up work, leaving them in desperate need of help with bills and their mortgage.

Mrs Walton said the Macfarlane Trust offered to advance them the money to pay off the mortgage in exchange for a percentage of the home, which the charity would reclaim after the property was sold.

"(They said that) they would have our house valued and that they would give us the money that would be for the mortgage and then they would take X percent - as it turned out 58 percent, I think it was, of the home in exchange. It was not what we were expecting."

Mrs Walton said her husband knew he was going to die and that the Macfarlane Trust had put him under "extreme duress" to sign up.

She added: "We were forced to make the application because there was no other option.

"The Macfarlane Trust put a man who was dying of Aids - he had been told he had only 18 months to live - under extreme duress to sign over our home to keep a roof over our heads."

She accused the trust of "profiting from people dying" and branded it "immoral".

Mrs Walton said she and her husband continued to apply for small amounts of money, often having to give medical evidence to make the claims.

She added that she continued to have difficulties with the trust after her husband died in 1993.

When it was closed down, her loan was transferred as an asset to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Mrs Walton told the inquiry she later received confirmation from that organisation that her loan was being written off with immediate effect.

The Infected Blood Inquiry hearings continue.

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