Bereaved families whose loved ones died of coronavirus (Covid-19) are trying to force the government to launch the public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic. And it wants people to get involved to make the government listen.
Delaying the coronavirus inquiry
As PA reported, Boris Johnson has said an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic will start in Spring 2022. He claims it will place “the state’s actions under the microscope”. BBC News reported that the PM:
told MPs the delay was necessary to avoid putting too much stress on the NHS, advisers and government while there was the risk of a winter surge later this year.
The exact aims and remit – known as the terms of reference – will be announced closer to the start of the inquiry next year.
This is partly to allow time for the UK government to work with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the scope.
But for many grieving families, this is too late. And one group is calling for people to act to force the Tories to bring the inquiry forward.
Bereaved families fighting for justice
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is “a group of bereaved family members” who believe government actions led to too many deaths. It says that:
As time goes on, more evidence emerges about government failings in relation to the timing of lockdown, provision of PPE and testing in health and care settings, isolation of cases within care homes and hospitals and much more. Despite this and the fact that the UK has one of the highest death tolls in the world, the government continues to speak of its ‘apparent success’. For the hundreds and thousands of people in mourning in the country, this is a failure to recognise the facts and an insult to the memory of our loved ones.
It wants the government to start the public inquiry “immediately”.
Lessons must be learned
The group says that while the government has lifted lockdown measures:
when it comes to starting an urgent inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic it’s said we are still in the midst of the pandemic and we can’t distract from a national effort to tackle the virus.
Never mind that an inquiry would help ensure lessons are learnt and lives are saved.
Never mind that scientists, former judges, the bereaved, religious leaders and experts across every walk of life tell the Government now is the right time to hold an inquiry.
So, it’s asking people to write to their MPs. The group wants the public to tell them that they demand the coronavirus inquiry start now. You can use the group’s online form here. Also, as PA reported, Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice has told the government it should have core participant status in the inquiry. It also said that work must start immediately now restrictions are lifted. It told PA it believes that “little work has been done to progress the inquiry behind the scenes”.
Hearing real-world evidence
Meanwhile, as PA reported, two other groups are also calling on the government to let them become core participants in the forthcoming public inquiry. John’s Campaign and the Relatives and Residents Association (R&RA) have told the government they will apply for the status when the legal process allows.
The groups, represented by solicitors Leigh Day, are calling for the inquiry to start urgently to “provide answers to those whose lives have been most severely affected and to learn lessons before it is too late”. Core participants can make opening and closing statements when oral evidence hearings start, see any inquiry report in advance of publication, and their legal representative can apply for permission to question witnesses.
In granting a person or organisation core participant status, the inquiry chair must consider whether they played a direct and significant role or have significant interest in the matters the inquiry will examine.
So far, the government isn’t budging. A spokesperson told PA:
Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by data and scientific advice and have acted quickly and decisively to save lives and livelihoods.
Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.
As the Prime Minister said, we have committed to holding a full public inquiry as soon as is reasonably possible.
Who do you trust?
But as Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice sums up:
So who do you trust more?
Those who know what happened during the pandemic as they lost loved ones, suffered with long Covid and the hundreds of experts calling to start an inquiry or those who took the decisions such as Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak?
Many people would know the answer to that. Now it’s time to place pressure on MPs and parliament to act – before more lives are unnecessarily lost.
Featured image and additional reporting via PA
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