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Bereaved families call for judge-led public inquiry into UK Covid response

The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group has told Downing Street it wants a statutory public inquiry led by a senior judge to “determine a definitive, official, evidence-based narrative of what did and did not happen, independent of political influence” during the pandemic. The group considers it potentially cathartic and wants the families’ grief heard.

Frontline health workers also want a wide-ranging inquiry to provide a platform for their experiences, while minority ethnic leaders believe an inquiry can only determine what went wrong if wider societal inequalities relating to work, health and housing are investigated.

But while there is no dissent about the need for an inquiry, others fear this remit might be too broad – and fear lessons have to be learned now so the UK can properly protect itself from any future health emergency.

Sir John Bell, the regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, and Lord O’Donnell, head of the civil service under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, want a different model more narrowly focused on determining future actions.

Ultimately the decision will be for Boris Johnson, who has significant latitude to set the terms and scope of any inquiry, including selection of its chair.

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Source: The Guardian, 16 March 2021


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