Boris Johnson’s claim that his government saved thousands of lives during the pandemic is a “gross distortion of the truth”, bereaved families have said in a scathing statement outside the UK’s covid inquiry.
The former Prime Minister was booed by crowds of people who had lost loved ones to the virus during the pandemic and left to cries of “shame” and “liar” after a day of being grilled by lead counsel Hugo Keith KC on Wednesday.
Earlier, Mr Johnson stumbled over his words as the inquiry heard he lost 5,000 WhatsApp messages between January 2020 and June 2020.
Aamer Anwar, lead solicitor for the Scottish Covid Bereaved group, led a press conference in west London accusing the former Prime Minister of presiding over a “disgusting orgy of narcissism”.
Below is the statement in full:
“Mr Johnson apologised today, but that apology is not accepted by many of the bereaved because he also claimed his government saved thousands of lives and that for many is a grotesque distortion of the truth.
“Instead of solving a national crisis Boris Johnson, in his own words, presided over a total disgusting orgy of narcissism.
“Millions of frontline workers risked their lives without adequate PPE Johnson’s government turned our care homes into killing grounds for the elderly who were treated as toxic waste.
“Mr Johnson tried his very best to deny his government’s failings meant that the UK had one of the highest COVID death rates of all major economies but that is the evidence.
“He was dismissive of WhatsApps but he was accused by senior members of his own government, of his own inner circle of saying let the bodies pile up rather than have another lockdown.
“Johnson’s excuse today is that his government was slow to understand the severity of COVID but insisted that he got the big calls right.
“However, on the biggest life-saving decision of lockdowns on each and every occasion, Boris Johnson delayed and sided with death.
“The voice of the voiceless will be heard. The bereaved and all those impacted by Covid at the very least deserve the truth from Mr Johnson.”
Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees, from Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru added: “It’s very surreal to be standing here today three years after my father died and listening to the man that made the decisions that led to so many deaths. We all knew he was disorganized and disdainful, but you had no idea.
“And I’m going to use some C words here but not out of the Dominic Cummings lexicon, but I wasn’t aware how casual, careless, chaotic, clueless he was, but sadly not competent, and without conscience and 100% not contrite.
“Very interesting that one of his biggest issues was dealing with the devolved nations, Scotland or whoever as someone that leads the Welsh group.
“We assume that means Wales and Northern Ireland. It just feels like he was living under a rock.
“How, how could we all know what was going on in China and Italy and he was just completely unaware of it.
“I mean, if the chair needs a recommendation, I’d say if you’re gonna be PM, there needs to be some kind of exam to do it and it needs to include a memory test. Thank you.”
And in a third statement issued on the first day of Mr Johnson’s evidence, Natalie Rogers from the Long Covid group added:
“If the government had been competent, many of the millions of people who are still suffering from ongoing symptoms from a Covid-19 infection back in March 2020 would not have had their lives ruined.
“Johnson talked about communication as being one of the most important NPI’s to stop the spread of the virus.
“The government has failed to communicate about long Covid throughout the inquiry. It has been sidelined.
“The communication would have helped prevent people from dying as well as getting long Covid because people would have taken personal protective measures.
“It’s really, really disappointing that even though ministers try to bring the fact of long Covid to the Prime Minister’s notice. He was clearly sceptical and was unable to take it on the board and was unable to take it seriously.”
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