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Government refuses to start public inquiry into Covid as PM accused of saying let the “bodies pile high”

28 April 2021

The government has told the families of those who have suffered bereavement through Covid that “an inquiry now is not appropriate”.

A letter sent from the government to lawyers acting for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said: “the very people who would need to give evidence to an inquiry are working round the clock… it is not anticipated that the government’s workload will ease in the coming months”.

The government said it is focussing on vaccine delivery and preparing for “the effects of the third wave of the virus currently being experienced in neighbouring countries”.

It said that inquiries by committees of MPs and the National Audit Office provide the means for lessons to be learned.

Jo Goodman, co-founder of the bereavement group said that the government’s position was one of “procrastination” and “an insult to the bereaved [and] prevents the government from protecting future lives to the best of their ability”.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “The government is failing to listen to hundreds of thousands of bereaved families. Boris Johnson has promised an inquiry but is refusing to commit to when. Disabled people make up a fifth of the population, yet 60% of deaths were those of Disabled people. The scale of loss is huge. Families cannot get any sense of closure while being left hanging by the very same government which made so many mistakes early on in this pandemic – mistakes which led to an overwhelming loss of life – 127,000 lives. 127,000 lost loved ones.”

The Prime Minister has this week been accused of, and denies saying, let “bodies pile high” in a rage. ITV journalist Robert Peston has said that two witnesses would corroborate this “under oath”.

Fazilet Hadi added: “These are astonishing accusations which will do nothing to persuade the families of those who lost loved ones that the government thought their lives mattered.”

Labour has called for an inquiry to begin as soon as lockdown measures are lifted in June, along with leading disability charities, the Royal College of Nursing the British Medical Association, the TUC and the Archbishop of Canterbury.