In August 2022 my wife and I decided to holiday in Sweden to pay tribute to Anders Tegnell and the Swedish people. I wrote a letter to Anders thanking him for the extraordinary courage he had shown in standing up to the relentless international pressure to fall into line and for refusing to be intimidated by the personal threats made against him and his family. Anders wasn’t home when we arrived unannounced at his house in Östergötland (everything is in the public domain in Sweden) but we left the letter with his wife and later that evening, to our surprise and delight, Anders sent us a message inviting us to visit him. A couple of days later we returned for a two-hour tea (pictured below) where we discussed the extraordinary global response to SARS-CoV-2. I wrote about our visit for the Daily Sceptic.
Since then I have stayed in touch with Anders. I introduced him to Allison Pearson for her interview for the Daily Telegraph and have sent him the occasional news item that I thought might be of interest. A few days ago I forwarded to him Carl Heneghan’s Substack reflections on Carl’s appearance before the Hallett Inquiry. Heneghan and Tegnell had been on the Zoom meeting in September 2020 with Sunetra Gupta, John Edmonds, Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson where Heneghan, Tegnell and Gupta made the case for a Swedish-style approach. I took the opportunity to ask if Anders had received an invitation from Hallett to appear in person. He had not but he had submitted his written evidence. What he did draw to my attention was the “very positive” but barely reported meeting that he had with Lord Brailsford, Chair of the Scottish Covid Inquiry, on September 26th.
A couple of days after his woeful treatment at the Hallett Inquiry, a disheartened Heneghan asked his followers whether he and Tom Jefferson should continue to report on the inquiry. The overwhelming view, and the one that I shared, was that they should and duly I signed up to their Substack Trust the Evidence. Since then I’ve been mulling over whether or not there was anything to be gained by continuing to cover the inquiry. Having followed the Grenfell Tower Inquiry extremely closely, (listening to all 203 of the excellent BBC Grenfell Tower podcasts and attending in person to watch the exemplary chair, Sir Martin Moore-Bick and his team in action), my expectations of the Covid Inquiry were higher than most of my fellow sceptics. Sadly, it increasingly seems that the Hallett Inquiry is, as many predicted, heading for a pre-ordained conclusion that we should have locked down sooner and harder and, as Heneghan put it, the inquiry will come to be seen as a “missed opportunity of historic proportions”.
There is a long way to go but Hallett has created a culture that is at odds with learning the answers to the big questions if they eventually start asking them.
In contrast, north of the border, Lord Brailsford opened the Scottish Inquiry in July with a scene-setting report commissioned from Dr. Ashley Croft, Consultant Public Health Physician and Medical Epidemiologist, that questioned whether there was ever sufficient, or indeed any evidence, to support the introduction of lockdowns, masks and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. His meeting with Tegnell suggests that Brailsford is determined to find an answer to the question, “What do we do next time?” Do we follow China or Sweden? Do we lockdown, with the dreadful collateral costs, or follow a more liberal approach?
I have reached the conclusion that whilst Heneghan and Jefferson should continue to cover a Covid Inquiry, it is the Scottish Inquiry from which we will have most to learn. And as an Englishman who has always been happy to support the home nations when England are down and out, I have absolutely no hesitation in loudly shouting “C’mon Scotland!”