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Who killed my son?

18 September 2013

NUJ member Christine Lord watched her journalist son Andrew Black die of vCJD – the human strain of so-called ‘Mad Cow Disease’ – at the age of 24.

She promised him on his death bed that she would find out how and why he had become infected and who was to blame. The result is a book which outlines her subsequent campaign Justice for Andy, which she argues uncovers a shocking degree of institutional corruption, incompetence and deceit.

Christine Lord
Christine Lord at Downing Street © Private

Throughout the 1980s, top-ranking politicians continually told the public that British beef was 100 per cent safe, she said. She claimed:

"They were more interested in protecting the profits of the British beef industry than the safety of the British people."

At an event at Headland House, NUJ headquarters to launch the book, “before and after” photographs showed how, in a matter of months, vCJD reduced a fit and good-looking 20-year-old to a bald, pale, skeletal invalid who looked closer to 70. There is no cure for vCJD.

The meeting also revealed the political and medical establishment’s mistreatment of victims’ families.  Christine Lord claims there is a pervasive ignorance within the NHS about vCJD, and coroners are reluctant to name the disease on death certificates.

For this reason, Rose Smith, whose son Billy was repeatedly misdiagnosed before succumbing to vCJD, described the official UK death toll (176 people since 1990) as not worth the paper it's written on.

Christine Lord said relatives are often warned not to speak to the press about their experiences and that she received dozens of anonymous threats while researching the book.

Shirley Warne, who lost her ultra-fit son Chris in 1997, attended the 2000 BSE inquiry. Christine Lord believes key evidence was concealed and witnesses were put under pressure to toe the government line. At the end of the inquiry, government scientists celebrated in a less-than-sensitive manner: they cracked open bottles of champagne right in front of Shirley and other grieving relatives.

Christine Lord told the meeting that her book, Who killed my son?, which is available on Amazon, may be the breakthrough the campaign needs, as previously the media has dismissed vCJD as an old story. She said:

"In reality, the issue is still very relevant. New cases are being reported, some in people who only started living in the UK after the official ban on meat and bone meal feed in 1996.
"Thus BSE still exists in the UK. In 2011, the Health Protection Agency UK announced that at least 60,000 people could be incubating vCJD. That should worry us all."

Tags: , campaigns, nhs, coroners' courts, threats