COVID inquiry turns its focus to politicians – Sky News

Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings are among those expected to give evidence.
Tuesday 3 October 2023 07:48, UK
The second part of the public inquiry into the UK coronavirus response starts today, focusing on “core decision making and political governance”.
After a summer break, it will restart with statements from the lawyers representing the inquiry on Tuesday followed by representatives from the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group and its Scotland and Wales counterparts on Wednesday.
While the previous module looked at “resilience and preparedness” – how ready the UK was for a pandemic – this one will scrutinise how politicians handled the outbreak in the UK between January 2020 and February 2022, when final restrictions were lifted.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his then Health Secretary Matt Hancock and closest aide Dominic Cummings are among those expected to give evidence.
The medical experts and scientists who appeared alongside politicians at daily Downing Street press conferences, such as chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty, will also appear.
The previous module saw Mr Hancock admit the government’s response to pandemic planning was “completely wrong” and scientists claim austerity measures made the NHS less equipped to respond to the virus.
Nicola Brook, a solicitor with Broudie Jackson Canter, which is representing the bereaved families group, said the wait for the latest module has been “frustrating”.
She also criticised Mr Johnson’s legal wranglings with the High Court over the release of his unredacted WhatsApp messages to the inquiry.
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“We have been forced to make submissions to the inquiry without having the benefit of crucial material, including a key witness statement from Dominic Cummings and access to Boris Johnson’s phone messages during critical stages of the pandemic. We still await these,” she said.
“Understandably, the bereaved families are feeling like it’s one rule for the political decision makers and one rule for them.
“Unfortunately, the bereaved will be left watching on the sidelines after all but one of our requests for 23 bereaved witnesses to give evidence in module two were refused.
“They are the ones with direct, first-hand experience of what the government could and should have done better, and should be at the centre of the inquiry, which will be much poorer without their input.”
Other experts due to give evidence for this module, which is held in central London, include Professor Philip Banfield of the doctors’ union the British Medical Association and former children’s commissioner Anne Longfield DBE.
There are separate modules – 2A, 2B and 2C – for how devolved decisions were taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Homepage © 2023 Sky UK


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