Campaign group will demand PM launches public inquiry ‘immediately’
The prime minister will welcome members of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group to Downing Street on Tuesday – 398 days on from his promise to meet them.
Mr Johnson said last August that he would “of course” meet with families member who had lost loved ones to the virus.
But the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice accused the prime minister of being “heartless” after he initially ignored their repeated requests to meet.
The families – who successfully campaigned for public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic – vowed to use the face-to-face meeting with Mr Johnson to demand the investigation is launched “immediately”.
Mr Johnson announced in May that a public inquiry into his government’s response to the crisis will begin in spring of 2022 – promising it would put “the state’s actions under the microscope”.
But the families fear it could be pushed back beyond the promised date. Lawyers representing the group recently met with the Cabinet Office officials to discuss the inquiry’s potential scope, and were told work has not yet begun on the basic terms of reference.
Mr Johnson is expected to be joined by senior civil servants from the Cabinet Office and government’s legal department to discuss the terms of the inquiry at Tuesday’s meeting. The families have asked for it to take place outdoors with social distancing.
Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, 说: “It has been over a year since the prime minister first said he would meet us and in that time over 100,000 people across the country have lost their lives with Covid.”
The campaigner, who lost her father Stuart to Covid last year, said it had been hard to see families go through “the same pain and grief that we’ve experienced” over the past 18 月.
“We first called for a rapid review last summer so that lessons could be learnt from the deaths of our loved ones to protect others, and we can’t help but feel that if we’d been listened to then, other lives might have been spared,” Ms Goodman said.
她补充说: “We hope that the prime minister will listen to us tomorrow, and start the process to begin the inquiry immediately, whilst ensuring that the perspective of bereaved families is at its heart.”