Coronavirus: Relatives of Covid-19 victims call for inquiry into government’s handling of crisis

Action now could also help ministers safely reopen schools in September and further ease the lockdown, lawyer for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK says

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Friday 12 June 2020 10:29 BST
Keir Starmer rejects Boris Johnson's 'pride' in coronavirus achievement as deaths top 40,000

Relatives of nearly 500 people who have died from coronavirus are calling for an immediate snap public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

The group, Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, say lessons need to be learned quickly to prevent further deaths, amid fears of a second peak later this year.

A full public inquiry can take place later, they say.

The founder of the group said he believed his own father’s death could have been prevented.

Matt Fowler told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He was only 56, so he has gone way, way before his time.”

He added: “I absolutely believe that my dad’s death could have been prevented if things were handled in a different manner.”

The relatives are also calling for all documents related to the crisis to be retained.

Their lawyer Elkan Abrahamson said ministers had to look at life-and-death issues “straightaway”.

“We expect there will be a second spike. We want to know what the government is going to do when that happens,” he said.

Action now could also help ministers safely reopen schools in September and further ease the lockdown, he suggested.

Experts have warned the UK should prepare for a second peak of cases possibly beginning this autumn. The NHS already comes under increased strain every winter, with an increase in viruses like the flu.

Ministers have faced criticism over their handling of the coronavirus crisis, including over a decision to scrap contact tracing in March and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS staff.

Earlier this month, at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged the effectiveness of the government’s policies during the pandemic.

Boris Johnson replied: “I take full responsibility for everything this government has been doing in tackling coronavirus, and I’m very proud of our record. If you look at what we have achieved so far, it is very considerable.”

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