Group for families of Covid victims denied access to conservative conference

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The Conservative Party denied access to its party conference to the Covid-19 Bereved Families for Justice group, leaving them “shocked and frustrated”.

The organization, which represents more than 4,000 bereaved families, wanted to pressure MPs at the October event in Manchester amid frustration that they still have not met the Prime Minister or the Secretary to Health, Sajid Javid, despite several requests to do so.

Six weeks after applying for conference accreditation, the group’s application was denied. They received an email from the office of the party chairman telling them that he had “not commented on the reasons for the failure of an individual or group’s conference request.”

The group said it represented bereaved families from all political backgrounds, including members of the Conservative Party. He called for an urgent public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and more support for mourning. He launched the National Covid Memorial Wall of more than 150,000 hand-drawn red hearts on the south bank of the Thames opposite Parliament for each of the UK’s Covid deaths.

“It defies the idea that the party in government seems determined not only to ignore us, but to have as little contact with us as possible,” said Lobby Akinnola, the group’s spokesperson, whose assistant’s father. care, Olufemi, died of Covid in April 2020. “Being treated like this is deeply upsetting for families already in mourning. “

He said: “The question that remains for us is, ‘What is the leadership of the Conversative Party afraid of?’ … It might be more comfortable for the Conservative Party to pretend that groups like ours do not exist, but we do and it is decent to talk to us.

“We were hoping to attend party conferences, so that MPs from all walks of life can hear our stories and work with us to learn lessons and prevent more families from going through the same tragedies as we do,” Akinnola said. “At the end of the day, we all have the same goal. “

The group said it had not yet been able to secure meetings with Conservative government ministers. Boris Johnson has yet to meet them a year after he said he would do so for the first time. Javid had told the group he was “too busy” to meet with them earlier this year, the group said.

Hundreds of private sector lobbyists, from banks to home builders, will attend the Conservatives’ conference, which begins October 3. The grieving group had requested that a single organizer be present with the intention of trying to persuade delegates that the longer an investigation is delayed, the more vital lessons are not learned, and that key evidence can be lost or destroyed. .

Johnson announced earlier this year that a statutory public inquiry into the pandemic would begin in the spring of 2022, but no further details have been made public about his tenure or the chair and panel who will oversee the hearings, which could take years.

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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