Boris Johnson rules out Covid public inquiry ‘for months’ as the Government tells bereaved families it is too busy dealing with the pandemic to divert resources to an official probe

  • Bereaved families calling for the Government to launch public inquiry into crisis 
  • Boris Johnson has committed to holding an official and independent probe
  • But Government has told families holding an inquiry now ‘is not appropriate’ 

The Government has told bereaved families it is too busy dealing with the coronavirus pandemic to launch an immediate public inquiry into its handling of the crisis.  

In a letter to lawyers representing families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, the Government appeared to rule out starting an official probe for months. 

It said ‘an inquiry now is not appropriate’ because ‘the very people who would need to give evidence to an inquiry are working round the clock’.

It said that ‘it is not anticipated that the Government’s workload will ease in the coming months’.

The comments come amid growing calls for an immediate statutory inquiry into the Government’s handling of the crisis. 

Boris Johnson has previously committed to holding a probe but he is yet to set out a timetable for doing so. 

Boris Johnson, picture during a visit to Hartlepool on April 23, has previously committed to holding a probe into the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis but he is yet to set out a timetable for doing so

The letter, seen by The Guardian, was sent to lawyers representing the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group. 

The letter, sent on April 1, relates to potential legal action to force an inquiry to begin.

Jo Goodman, co-founder of the group, said the Government’s stance was ‘an insult to the bereaved [and] prevents the government from protecting future lives to the best of their ability’.

It comes just days after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, piled the pressure on Mr Johnson to launch an inquiry as he said the time for an independent probe ‘must be coming close’. 

Mr Welby said during a visit to the National Covid Memorial Wall in central London that a probe should focus on ‘lessons to be learned’ and must be ‘very independent’ and ‘very wide-ranging’. 

Justin Welby said earlier this month that the time for an independent probe ‘must be coming close’. He made the comments during a visit to the National Covid Memorial Wall in central London

A Government spokesman told The Guardian that an inquiry will be held ‘at the appropriate time’ but officials are currently ‘rightly focused on protecting public health and saving lives’.  

Mr Johnson said in March this year that the Government will launch a public inquiry into the crisis ‘as soon as it is right to do so’. 

He said the probe will take place ‘as soon as it would not be an irresponsible diversion of the energies of the key officials involved’. 

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