Scottish Covid bereaved families want ‘answers, accountability and apology’

Dr Claire Mitchell spoke on behalf of the Scottish Covid Bereaved group at the inquiry in London on Tuesday.

Craig Paton
Tuesday 03 October 2023 17:16 BST
The second module of the inquiry will hear from former ministers and advisers on political decision making (Danny Lawson/PA)
The second module of the inquiry will hear from former ministers and advisers on political decision making (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Scottish families who lost loved ones from Covid want “answers, accountability” and an “apology” through the inquiry set up to assess the Government’s response, their lawyer has said.

At the beginning of the second module of the Covid -19 Inquiry – chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett – Dr Claire Mitchell KC spoke on behalf of the Scottish Covid Bereaved group.

The module will hear from current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – who served as chancellor during the pandemic – and his predecessor Boris Johnson as well as other ministers and officials to examine the political response to the pandemic.

“There’s a difficult balancing act between listening to all those who were affected and finding out from those who were in charge exactly what happened,” she said.

“As noted by the chair in her opening statement, given the inevitability of a future pandemic, we don’t have the opportunity to call every witness affected.

“However, on listening to Scottish Covid Bereaved, and to some of those we heard this morning, three requests appear again and again to emerge.

“Those are for answers, for accountability and – where due and sincerely made – for apologies.

“The Scottish Covid Bereaved want to know the truth of what took place in those early days, to know about the decisions which directly impacted the death of their loved ones.

“Without truth, lessons cannot be learned, and without truth there can be no justice.

“For the Scottish Covid Bereaved the knowledge of what happened cannot take away their grief, but it may, when analysed by this inquiry, save the lives of many in the next pandemic.”

In her statement, delivered on Tuesday, Dr Mitchell also said the new module should look at the relationship between the Scottish and UK governments.

Ministers north and south of the border repeatedly found themselves at loggerheads during the pandemic.

“This module will need to explore the UK Government’s relationship – or lack thereof – with the Scottish Government,” Dr Mitchell said.

“It will be equally important to have this investigated from the Scottish Government perspective in module two.

“We will of course hear first from the prime ministers, the then prime minister Boris Johnson, his then chancellor Rishi Sunak, (former Number 10 adviser) Dominic Cummings and many more who had key roles to play in the decisions made by the UK Government.

“We must also hear from those who made decisions in the Scottish Government, to understand their role and what part they took in the decision making process.”

Dr Mitchell added: “From what we have so far read, it is clear that constitutional strife, petty squabbles, territorial power struggles dictated decision making rather that the needs of people facing death on a devastating scale.”

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