Tribute to Peter Mossman
Written by Jessica Bomford, January 19, 2022
We were very sad to learn of the death of Peter Mossman, a long-standing campaigner and founder of the Manor House group. Below is a tribute written by his friends and fellow campaigners, Colette Wintle and Carol Grayson.
It is with great sadness, but equally an honour too, that we jointly write this tribute to our dear friend Peter Mossman, affectionately known as “Mossie”, who died on 17 December, 2021 at the age of 78 after a long battle with hepatitis C and other associated conditions.
Peter was a member of the Haemophilia Society and a long-standing campaigner who fought tirelessly for a public inquiry into the tragic circumstances, which led to the “worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” a shocking scandal of which he was a victim. He was brave, stoical, funny and a true friend who supported us through the many difficult times we experienced over the years and will be remembered with great fondness.
Peter’s greatest achievement was founding the Manor House campaign group in 1994, along with his friend, the late Peter Hughes who was co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C. The ribbon emblem of red, yellow and black that so many people wear today was created by Peter’s campaign group. He succeeded in getting MPs of all political parties to wear the ribbon in support of their constituents at the many debates and campaign gatherings we attended at Westminster and beyond. For many of the younger generations of haemophiliacs who are not aware of the campaign history, it must be realised that in the 1990s there were no dedicated groups of campaigners challenging the government on the issues of hepatitis C infection. It was a very difficult task at a time when there was huge stigma and fear over HIV and hepatitis C, with so few of us willing to risk being openly public.
Peter was brave, stoical, funny and a true friend who supported us through the many difficult times we experienced over the years and will be remembered with great fondness.Colette Wintle and Carol Grayson
Sadly, differences in support created harmful divisions within the haemophilia community. This came to a head in the setting up of a support scheme through the Macfarlane Trust for people with haemophilia infected with HIV while at the same time denying those infected with hepatitis C much needed financial support until the formation of the Skipton Fund in 2004. This came about only after prolonged and relentless activism by Peter and other long-standing campaigners and the establishment of a legal case to try to overturn a controversial hepatitis “waiver” inserted in the HIV litigation. The threat of going to court finally motivated government to act. In total, around 5,000 people with bleeding disorders were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses.
The divisions by virus were grossly unfair and ironic given that 99% of haemophiliacs with HIV also had hepatitis C. Peter refused to be drawn into such political games and in 1994 travelled from Manchester to Newcastle to meet fellow campaigner, the late Peter Longstaff who was infected with HIV and hepatitis C to forge a campaign strategy that would incorporate all haemophiliacs and their families. Both were also active in highlighting the exposure of haemophiliacs to variant CJD and vocal in their support for carers and bereaved families.
Peter, like many campaigners, was very unhappy that little was being done by official bodies to acknowledge the level of harm and damage caused by hepatitis viruses, so his involvement and hard work in creating the Manor House group helped to raise the profile of this terrible disease, campaigning for better treatment and assessments for liver transplants which were still a rarity for people with haemophilia in the 1990s.
He actively worked with the media, contributed to documentaries and engaged the political support of his MP, the late Lord Alf Morris of Manchester (President of the Haemophilia Society for many years) as well as the late Paul Goggins MP. Peter worked hard to educate Paul on the history of the contaminated blood scandal, Paul in turn communicated this to the then Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, who became an advocate for the haemophilia community.
Peter was one of the first UK haemophiliacs to obtain legal aid in 1989 to fight for proper compensation for his hepatitis infection. He worked tirelessly with at least five firms of solicitors over many years trying to get his case to court. Carol often accompanied him to chambers to consult with his legal team and present new evidence but the case was viewed as a “hot potato” that some lawyers were keen to let drop. Sadly after constant battles over maintaining legal aid the case was discontinued, much to Peter’s anger and despair. When the files were reviewed at a later date as a new firm took over the archived documents, it was stated that Peter actually had a good chance of winning his case, though it had not been allowed to proceed. Another great injustice which caused personal heartache for our friend. Tragically by the time Peter got Milners to represent him at the Infected Blood Inquiry, it was too late for Peter to assist in person due to declining health… the years of fighting for justice had taken their toll.
Peter, alongside a small number of us, were the early activists that despite the decades that came to pass, never lost hope that truth, justice and compensation would be achieved and helped build the platform of campaigning which many recognise and build upon today.
Mossie’s dedication to the cause has benefited many people with haemophilia within our community over the years and inspired a new generation of campaigners to add their contribution to what he helped establish. We give thanks to Peter and value his large volume of painstaking work and the happiness he brought his fellow campaigners along the way and send our condolences and love to his family and many friends near and far.
Colette Wintle and Carol Grayson