UK Covid-19 Inquiry – preliminary hearings for the second investigation

1 November 2022

Yesterday Pete Weatherby KC addressed the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on the first day of the of preliminary hearings for the second investigation.

Pete leads the team representing the main UK-wide Covid Bereaved Families for Justice group, which has more than 6,600 Facebook supporters and around 3,320 members, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In his submission, Pete warned that, given the ‘enormous task’ facing the inquiry team, the ‘possibility of matters being overlooked or missed is obviously going to be there, and there throughout.’

Scope

He urged the chair of the inquiry to include greater particularity within the inquiry’s provisional scope around the inclusion of people from vulnerable groups, to make it unambiguous that they will be considered by the inquiry.

Pete emphasised the importance of this clarity to people within communities more severely impacted by the pandemic, and the significance of understanding that their issues will be considered. Among the examples he gave during his submission of the groups more adversely affected, he discussed the way Covid had disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities and whether that was considered by cabinet decision makers. Pete also raised concerns regarding whether there had been proper consideration given to populations of elderly people, children, physically disabled groups, those with learning difficulties and workers employed in high-risk jobs, such as key workers, those in the transport industry and gig economy workers.

Pete also touched on concerns raised about the apparent disproportionate enforcement of Covid rules on certain minority ethnic groups.

Candour

Pete outlined the particular need to make clear the extent to which the effect of mitigating measures, non-pharmaceutical interventions in particular, were considered against forecasts of the numbers of people who might die. Likewise, the decision to let high-profile sporting events take place.

And as with Module 1, Pete highlighted the need for candour from all parties contributing to the inquiry and urged the chair to ‘keep a very open mind of people who may have reason to reign in their own disclosure’.

Pete highlighted the continuing concerns of the bereaved regarding the way in which the Inquiry is proposing to deal with their evidence, and the fact that the efforts to gather evidence are not being disclosed.

Follow the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Twitter and visit their website for the latest updates.

Pete Weatherby KC leads the team, including Kate Stone and Mira Hammad, representing the Covid Bereaved Families for Justice group.

Entirely separately, Anna Morris leads the team, including Christian Weaver, representing more than 200 people who have experienced severe health impacts from the Covid 19 vaccine.

Our inquest and inquiries team has significant expertise and experience in the most complex and high-profile of inquests and public inquiries.

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