Boris Johnson: Investigation into Covid Response to Begin in Spring 2022

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Boris Johnson: Investigation into Covid Response to Begin in Spring 2022


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A public inquiry will be launched next spring to investigate “rigorously and frankly” the mistakes made by the British government during the coronavirus pandemic, but could take weeks before starting to hear evidence, Boris Johnson said.

The Prime Minister said it was “absolutely vital” that “we learn the lessons” from the fight against Covid, promising that a president would be appointed and the tenure confirmed after consulting with devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland.

He admitted that bereaved families might be anxious for the investigation to begin before spring 2022, but said it would be wrong to ‘weigh in’ on science advisers and take ‘huge amounts of time for officials’ while they could still be in the middle of the pandemic if cases increase again this winter.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested he wanted the investigation to begin in less than 12 months, asking parliament: ‘Why can’t it be later this year? Why can’t he start earlier? “

Downing Street has confirmed that spring 2022 will be the start of the investigative process, not the deadline for the start of evidence, meaning the actual hearings won’t start until some time later.

On March 17, The Guardian announced calls for an investigation. Photography: Guardian

Johnson’s announcement came after the Guardian in March highlighted calls for an investigation by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, frontline health workers and former civil service chief Gus O ‘ Donnell. At the time, the government said an immediate investigation would be flawed given the UK was still on lockdown.

On Tuesday, for the first time, Johnson set a loose timeline for the independent inquiry he had previously promised, saying it would begin before the end of the new parliamentary session, which is expected to last around a year.

Stating more details on Wednesday, the prime minister said the investigation would be fully independent and would have “the capacity to compel the production of all relevant documents and to collect oral evidence in public, under oath.”

Johnson has signaled that the investigation is unlikely to begin until next spring, as there was a high likelihood that Covid cases would rise again in the winter. “We must not inadvertently distract or distract those on whom we depend in the fire of our fight against this disease,” he said.

He said: “I expect the right time for the investigation to start is at the end of this period, in the spring of next year, in the spring of 2022.”

The inquiry would therefore be “able to look at the events of the past year in the cold light of day” and would be free “to hear from all the key players” and “to analyze and learn from the scale of our answer”.

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