The UK Covid Inquiry chair has vowed proceedings will not “drag on for decades” with final recommendations concluded before “another disaster strikes.”
The long-awaited inquiry, chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, started this morning after its original start date was postponed due to national mourning.
Lady Hallet told the Inquiry that the bereaved will be at the heart of the proceedings which she vowed would “not drag on for decades producing reports when it is too late for them to do any good.”
She added: “My principal aim is to produce reports and recommendations before another disaster strikes the four nations of the UK and, if it is possible, to reduce the number of deaths, the suffering and the hardship.”
“I promised the bereaved during the consultation process on the terms of reference that those who have suffered will be at the heart of the Inquiry and I intend to keep that promise.”
Members from Bereaved Covid-19 Families for justice attended the hearing as core participants, with government ministers who oversaw the UK’s handling of the pandemic including former health secretary Matt Hancock, former chancellor Rishi Sunak and former home secretary Priti Patel, also among the key contributors which will begin hearing evidence in Spring 2023.
Hugo Keith KC, the lead counsel for the inquiry vowed that the proceedings have a duty to “ensure full facts” of the pandemic’s handling are revealed adding that the bereaved “are absolutely entitled to no less.”
Outlining the objective of the Inquiry, Mr Keither KC said: “That duty [of the inquiry] as you have explained it is to get to the truth to ensure that the full facts are revealed, that culpable and discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice, that plainly wrongful decision making and significant errors of judgement identified and that lessons may be properly learnt.”
Mr Keitch KC confirmed that more than 20,000 responses were received to the Inquiry’s consultation as he outlined the events leading up to the coronavirus pandemic and how the current inquiry was formed.