Boris Johnson to meet Covid bereaved families 400 days after promise to do so

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Boris Johnson will finally meet the campaigning families who have lost loved ones in more than a year since he first promised to do so.

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The prime minister will welcome members of Covid-19 bereaved families to the Justice Group in Downing Street on Tuesday – 398 days from his promise to meet with them.

Mr Johnson said last August that he would “definitely” meet with members of families who had lost loved ones to the virus.


But justice for the Covid-19 bereaved families accused the prime minister of being “heartless”, as he initially ignored his repeated requests to meet.

The families – who have successfully campaigned for a 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 begin “immediately”.

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Mr Johnson announced in May that a public inquiry into his government’s response to the crisis would begin in the spring of 2022 – promising that it would “put the state’s actions under a microscope”.

But families fear it may be pushed back further than the promised date. Lawyers representing the group recently met with Cabinet Office officials to discuss the possible scope of the investigation, and were told that work on the basic terms of reference had not yet begun.

Mr Johnson is expected to join senior civil servants from the Cabinet Office and the government’s legal department to discuss the terms of the investigation at Tuesday’s meeting. The family has asked to do it outside with social distancing.

Joe Goodman, co-founder of Justice for COVID-19 Bereaved Families, said: “It’s been over a year since the Prime Minister first said he would meet us and in that time more than 100,000 people across the country died of COVID-19. lost his life with “

The campaigner, who lost her father Stuart to Covid last year, said families find it “hard to go through the same pain and grief that we have experienced” over the past 18 months.

“We first called for a rapid review last summer to learn lessons from the deaths of our loved ones in order to protect others, and we can’t help but feel that if we were listened to, other lives would be lost.” could have been spared,” said Ms. Goodman.

Elkan Abrahamson, director and chief of principal inquiries at the law firm Brody Jackson Cantor, will represent the group in the inquiry.

The lawyer, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said the PM would be asked the timing of when an inquiry chair and panel would be appointed and when the hearing could begin.

“It is not impractical to suggest that oral hearings can begin too soon. It may be impractical to suggest that you can do a full job in three months and be dusted because you cannot,” said Mr. Abrahamson .

“But it’s about saving lives, and if there was a particular area where a detailed analysis of the situation and hearing expert evidence could save lives, that would be the way to go.”


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