After meeting members of the Covid Bereaved Families for Justice on Tuesday – far too late, according to the group – the Prime Minister has signalled that he will appoint a Chair for the public inquiry into his Government’s response to Covid by Christmas. Whoever is appointed, it is likely that the inquiry will focus on questions that presume ministers were right to lock the country down in the first place (e.g. “Did we lock down too late?”, not “Did the costs of lockdown outweigh the benefits?”). Sky News has the story.
In May, [the Prime Minister] announced an independent public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic will begin in the spring of next year.
“Although we wish this meeting had taken place a long time ago, we’re pleased that the Prime Minister has chosen to finally engage with us and that he explicitly acknowledged the importance of ensuring that bereaved families are at the heart of learning lessons from the pandemic,” the group said in a statement after the meeting.
“However, we are still disappointed by the lack of urgency the Prime Minister displayed as we see no reason why preparations for the inquiry cannot begin now, particularly as nearly 1,000 people are still losing their lives each week.”
They said Mr. Johnson must deliver on his commitments, adding: “We hope that we can accept the Prime Minister’s commitments in good faith and, going forward, that there will be ongoing and meaningful dialogue with bereaved families.”
The group had asked for the meeting to be held outside with social distancing in place.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister gave a commitment that the Chair of the inquiry would be appointed by Christmas.
“He set out that for now it is right that public servants continue to focus their efforts on tackling the pandemic before moving on to the inquiry in the spring of next year.
“He welcomed the opportunity to hear from Bereaved Families for Justice on the areas they would like the inquiry to cover and the importance of choosing the right chair and panel members, and reiterated that he takes full responsibility for the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
Worth reading in full.