Families bereaved by Covid want Boris Johnson to relinquish control over issues that will be the subject of a public inquiry into the pandemic, alleging he is compromised by allegations of breaking lockdown in Downing Street.
The Covid-19 group Bereaved Families for Justice fears that the current arrangement, where Johnson has the final say on matters of inquiry, will allow him to water down scrutiny of how his own conduct and that of senior officials may have undermined public confidence in infection control measures that bereaved people say are costing lives.
The group, which represents more than 6,000 families, is asking the Prime Minister to commit to accepting the terms of reference presented by the chair of the inquiry, Lady Hallett, after public consultation. Under the Inquiries Act, it is up to the officially responsible Minister to set the terms of reference, in this case the Prime Minister.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that it is not enough for him to take the President’s recommendations for the terms of reference as advice and that he must commit to implementing them in full,” said Hannah Brady, bereaved group member. “The fact that his office is under police investigation for breaking the rules shows that he is compromised and cannot be allowed to have the final say on what the investigation is about.”
More than 159,000 people in the UK died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid and more than 180,000 had Covid on their death certificates.
The call to hand control of the inquiry’s terms of reference to Hallett was backed by Labour.
“This investigation is one of the most important in living history, yet it is overseen by a government crippled by utter chaos,” said Fleur Anderson, the shadow treasurer general. “If the Prime Minister had any respect for bereaved families, he would accept and implement the President’s recommendations in full, not reluctantly or deliberately. We cannot allow an administration currently under police investigation to mark its own homework on how it has handled the pandemic. »
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