Documents revealing blunders that saw thousands killed by contaminated blood products were destroyed as the scandal emerged.
Officials at the Department of Health feared their failures to protect haemophiliacs would be made public, so dispatched records for shredding, say campaigners.
In the 1970s the Factor 8 treatment for haemophilia was prescribed on the NHS, but demand saw surplus sourced from America where donors were paid.
This encouraged them to lie about their medical past, and saw diseased products given to Brits.
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More than 1,300 people were given HIV, and more than 4,000 people got Hepatitis C.
Around 2,400 died due to the infected blood products and a public inquiry into the scandal is ongoing.
Campaigners say the Government knew blood was dodgy and did nothing, then tried to hide their failure.
Jason Evans, who lost his father to HIV as a result of infected blood, believes the destruction timeline raises serious questions about whether a cover-up was at play.
He said: “A product that was known to be dangerous was released, the harm became evident, it was covered up and the people impacted by it have been denied any sense of truth or justice ever since.”
He added: “In terms of the numbers, thousands infected, well over 1,500 dead, when you compare it to all the other national disasters – Hillsborough, the Birmingham bombings, Grenfell – the scandal eclipses all of them combined.
"Yet it has never had that recognition.”
In 1992 French officials were jailed over contaminated Factor 8 blood products, before an MP raised the issue of compensation in the UK.
The same day as the question was tabled, documents relating to Advisory Committee on the Virological Safety of Blood meetings were sent for archiving, then destroyed months later.
In 1997 a Canadian court found in favour of haemophiliacs infected with HIV, and less than a week later a further tranche of documents was destroyed by officials in the UK.
The ACVSB had advised ministers to require victims to sign a waiver agreeing not to pursue the Government over hepatitis infections when applying for compensation.
Jason says they knew thousands had been given the disease – before the public knew.
The claims are to be aired in a bombshell documentary In Cold Blood tomorrow night on ITV.
Another victim was 10-year-old Lee Turton who died in 1992 after being given infected blood for his haemophilia.
His parents Colin and Denise, from Bristol, feature on the programme.
Former Health Minister David Owen this week told the infected blood inquiry victims had been failed by politicians and medics alike.
He said he “deeply regretted” that the UK had not become self-sufficient in blood products and continued to import them from the US.
While serving as Health Minister from 1974 to 1976, Lord Owen pledged the UK would become self-sufficient in blood products, with some £500,000 to be spent on the policy.
The one-time Labour MP said he had been determined to “stop blood coming in from America” from people donating for money.
The Department of Health said: “We recognise the pain and suffering caused to those involved and are committed to being open with the inquiry.
“We have waived the usual legal professional privilege to assist, and former ministers and civil servants continue to provide information.”
Million a year killed by Aids
Around 35 million people have died of Aids since it appeared in the 1980s.
It still kills more than a million a year, mostly in Africa, says the World Health Organisation.
Two decades ago, the chances of surviving more than 10 years with HIV – the virus which causes Aids – were slim.
Thanks to advances in treatment people with the condition can expect to live long lives. In the UK about 100,000 are living with the disease. But despite being on the decline, late diagnosis can still lead to deaths.
In 2017, 43 per cent of diagnoses were made at a late stage of HIV infection. In the same year 428 people died from Aids-related illnesses.
It is estimated that early diagnosis could have saved 248 of these.