Boris Johnson announces a full public inquiry into Covid that will start in spring 2022
BORIS Johnson has announced a full public inquiry into Covid will start in spring 2022.
In the biggest such probe since the Iraq war, a judge-led investigation will look at the full handling of Britain’s pandemic, putting the PM’s decisions “under a microscope”.
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Boris has announced an inquiry into the Covid pandemic will start next year[/caption]
The PM told MPs in the Commons today about his decision[/caption]
But the probe, held under the 2005 Inquiry Act, is not expected to report back before the next election – currently due to be held in in 2024.
The PM said in the House of Commons today: “The state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly, as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future.
“I feel personally very, very strongly that this country has been through a trauma like no other, it is absolutely vital for the sake of the bereaved, for the sake of our country, that we should understand exactly what happened.
“We should learn the lessons – we have been learning lessons throughout – but we need to have a very clear understanding of what took place over the last 14 months.”
He reassured people that wanted it to happen sooner that he was “fully committed” to learning the lessons of the Covid pandemic, which will look at the full UK response.
The PM will work with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, and other leaders in Northern Ireland too.
It will take evidence in public and start next year, as the PM said he’s expecting another winter spike in cases in the coming months which officials will need to focus on.
He warned: “The end of the lockdown is not the end of the pandemic.
“We also face the new variants, and should these prove highly transmissible and eliminate the protection of our vaccines, they will have the potential to cause even greater suffering that we endured in January.
“There is, a high likelihood of a surge this winter.”
A formal commemoration for the victims of the virus will be unveiled too, with a UK public commission to decide the most fitting memorial to the dead.
Boris Johnson said he supported a memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral, and was moved when he attended the Covid wall of remembrance in central London recently.
He added: “We must honour the heroism of those who have saved lives and the courage of frontline workers who have kept our country going, to celebrate the genius of those who created the vaccines and commemorate the small acts of kindness, and the daily sacrifice of millions who stayed at home buying time for our scientists to come to our rescue.”
The membership of the commission and terms of reference for what will be included in the inquiry will be released in the months to come.
And he will also have to announce a chair to head it up.
More than 127,000 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive test – and 151,000 have got Covid-19 on their death certificate, some of the highest numbers in the Western world.
Sir Keir Starmer supported the news of an inquiry, but urged him to start it sooner, saying: “Why can it not be later this year?
“All relevant questions must be asked and answered – that must of course include the decisions made in the last 14 or 15, months.”
Ministers have refused to admit the UK went into a lockdown too slowly last March and November, which critics say cost lives.
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said in response to the news today they welcomed the inquiry – but said there was more to do.
Jo Goodman, Co-Founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said spring 2022 was far too late and called for it to start as soon as possible, saying they should be involved in choosing the chair.
They added: “It sounds like common sense when the Prime Minister says that an inquiry can wait until the pandemic is over, but lives are at stake with health experts and scientists warning of a third wave later this year.
“A rapid review in summer 2020 could have saved our loved ones who died in the second wave in winter.”
It means the witnesses may be called to give evidence, too, and the judge will be able to demand data and files.
The Chilcot report into the Iraq was was announced by former PM Gordon Brown in 2009, and wasn’t published until July 2016.
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MPs have repeatedly called for a look back into what went wrong, but the PM has refused to sign it off in the middle of the pandemic as the NHS focuses on treating patients and getting through the worst of the crisis.
But as fewer and fewer people are going to hospital with Covid and cases are dropping, the PM is now ready to confirm the inquiry will begin.
The PM will announce a deep dive into how and when the country went into lockdown, and what decisions were taken[/caption]