A FRESH inquiry into the deaths of hundreds of haemophiliacs, who have a commemorative boulder in Stratton, has been called for.

Twelve hundred NHS patients contracted hepatitis C or HIV through contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s.

The stone and a woodland grove honouring the dead were installed in Stratton Wood in 2003 and it is the only memorial in the country for the victims.

It was paid for by the Birchgrove Group, a campaigning self-help group comprising people with HIV.

The grove contains 1,200 trees, which symbolise the life of each person given contaminated blood.

Former Conservative Social Services Secretary Lord Jenkin of Roding said there was now an "unanswerable case for a full and impartial public inquiry into what has been one of the major medical disasters in the NHS."

But the Government has rejected the plea, saying there is no evidence of wrongful action.

Lord Jenkin criticised the Department of Health's report Self-Sufficiency in Blood Products in England and Wales, published earlier this year, which dealt with what happened.

He claimed it had been internally produced.

Health Minister Lord Warner said he did not accept Lord Jenkin's remarks and rejected the call for a fresh inquiry.

He said the report had been commissioned following suggestions that if a self-sufficiency policy in blood products had been implemented in the 1970s and early 1980s it might have avoided haemophiliacs being treated with contaminated blood.