Long-awaited Covid inquiry set to begin as families hope for answers | British News

A video is scheduled to play as the investigation begins, with people sharing their experiences of the pandemic (Image: Getty)

A video is scheduled to play as the investigation begins, with people sharing their experiences of the pandemic (Image: Getty)

The voices of some of those who have suffered most from the pandemic will be heard as the UK’s Covid-19 inquiry officially begins its first day of evidence.

Two years after then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the opening of a public inquiry, Chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett will today officially open the first substantive hearing.

Following her testimony, a video of people from across the UK sharing their experiences of loss is played to those gathered at the hearing center in west London.

A statement from the investigative team ahead of the opening warned that the film might be “difficult to watch” for “some of those who have suffered most during the pandemic”.

The first module of the investigation is expected to last approximately six weeks. The focus will be on whether the pandemic was properly planned and “whether the UK was adequately prepared for this eventuality”.

Elkan Abrahamson, a lawyer representing Britain’s nearly 7,000-member group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice (CBFFJ), said Tuesday “marked the end of a two-year battle by bereaved families for a statutory public inquiry.”

He said: “As a nation, we have many lessons to learn from the pandemic and we must start learning from them now and avoiding unnecessary deaths.”

EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY 6 JUNE 21 File photo dated 21/12/21 of a nurse walking through a Covid ward at King's College Hospital in south east London, as most nurses warn their last shift was understaffed to cope to meet the need New research shows that the number of patients is declining and some are now leaving their jobs. PA photo. Issue date: Monday June 6, 2022. A survey of more than 20,000 frontline workers by the Royal College of Nursing found that only a quarter of shifts were at the planned number of registered nurses on duty. See PA story INDUSTRY RCN. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The first module of the investigation is expected to last six weeks (Image: PA)

The campaign group complained of feeling marginalized after nominating 20 people as witnesses for the first module, none of whom were called to testify.

But a spokeswoman for the inquiry said Lady Hallett “has made it clear that she does not rule out calling testimonies from survivors, for example through the use of non-resuscitation orders, in subsequent inquiries”.

The spokeswoman also highlighted the Every Story Matters campaign, which allows people to share their experiences with the investigation.

Also included in today’s hearing will be opening remarks from counsel for the investigation and key participants, including a counsel from the CBFFJ group.

In recent weeks there has been a dispute between the investigator and the government over access to material.


It’s been two years since Boris Johnson said the inquiry would be launched (Image: PA)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been accused of a cover-up after the Cabinet Office announced a Supreme Court challenge to Lady Hallett’s request for Mr Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages and notebooks.

The Cabinet Office said some of the information requested as part of the inquiry was unrelated to the government’s handling of the coronavirus and was “clearly irrelevant”.

But the retired chief justice has refused to back down from her request for Mr Johnson’s correspondence, saying it is her job to decide what is relevant to the investigation.

Mr Sunak denied trying to block the probe’s access.

The inquiry is divided into six modules, with public hearings due to be completed by summer 2026 and interim reports to be published by then.

Lady Hallett plans to publish reports for Modules 1 and 2 (key UK decisions and political governance) over the next year.

Contact our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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Justin Scaccy

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