Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister urging him to bring forward a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister, who has promised the Liberal Democrats an inquiry at multiple points in the chamber, has recently confirmed a full inquiry will take place in this session of Parliament in Spring 2022.
I am writing to urge you to establish the independent public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid pandemic that you have promised now, without further delay.
Very serious allegations have been made about the Government’s actions – including by your former chief adviser in Number 10. The chaotic mess of claims, counter-claims, anonymous WhatsApp briefings and cryptic Twitter threads is not the way to establish the truth that the British people – and bereaved families in particular – deserve.
It is clear that we need an independent, statutory public inquiry, and we need it now.
You will recall that in July last year, having secured a commitment from you to hold an independent inquiry, I wrote asking you to confirm that the inquiry would be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 and to publish a timetable, draft terms of reference and the name of your proposed chair before the summer recess. It is deeply disappointing that you have still not done so.
While I welcome your promise earlier this month to set up the inquiry within this parliamentary session, there is no substitute for a statutory public inquiry and no good excuse for any further delay. The Covid threat remains very real, and we must learn lessons now to prevent further unnecessary deaths.
You may also recall that, last July, I wrote to you with draft terms of reference for the inquiry, drawn up with advice from specialist lawyers, including those representing the bereaved families of those who have died from Covid. It is essential that this inquiry must ensure the effective participation of the bereaved, and my proposed terms of reference made clear that they must be consulted from the outset. I urge you again to consult them now.
Given the urgency of this crucial inquiry, the chair and any further members of the panel should be appointed within days. The chair must clearly be someone who has the necessary skills to conduct a detailed and thorough examination of the Government’s handling of the pandemic, as well as someone whose impartiality is beyond reproach. It is also vital that the chair and panel have the trust of the bereaved.
I hope you will consider these proposals in the positive and constructive spirit that they are intended, and I urge you to act quickly to establish the independent public inquiry you have promised without further delay.
I look forward to a response at your earliest convenience. In the spirit of co-operation for the national interest, I would be happy to meet with you and representatives of bereaved families to discuss our proposals in more detail.
Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats