Blistering report on the government’s Covid error calls for charges of misconduct

Boris Johnson’s government has been accused of gross negligence (Image: PA / Getty)

The government has been accused of “misconduct in public office” and gross negligence in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Tens of thousands of Covid deaths could be avoided, according to evidence heard by The People’s Covid Inquiry, which was told that ‘serious government mistakes’ contributed to Britain’s huge death toll.

Its blistering report said the government had failed to act to protect key populations at increased risk, and recommendations from previous pandemic planning exercises had been ignored.

The study added that allegations of misconduct in public office should be considered given the available evidence of error and the ‘serious consequences’ for the public.

The campaign group Keep Our NHS Public organized the investigation in the absence of a formal investigation and heard evidence from February this year until the summer.

The government has said it has committed to conducting a full public inquiry next spring after admitting there is experience to be learned.

In accusing the government of ‘serious misconduct’ in a report published on Wednesday, the People’s Covid survey said: ‘These contributed to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths and suffering, and they amount to abuse in public office.’

Families of survivors Covid had their questions ignored, the survey said (Image: Getty Images)

It added that the government had been disrespectful to bereaved families and ignored their questions.

Its chairman, Michael Mansfield QC, said there had been ‘gloomy failure in the face of blatantly obvious risks’ and accused Boris Johnson’s administration of ‘groundbreaking dishonesty’.

He said the study had identified a “theme of behavior similar to gross negligence on the part of the government, whether investigated individually or collectively”.

“There were lives lost and lives destroyed, which was predictable and preventable,” Mr Mansfield argued.

“From lack of preparation and coherent policy, unscrupulous delay, to favorite and wasted procurement, to ministers themselves breaking the rules, dishonesty is earthquake.”


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The investigation heard evidence from a number of witnesses and organizations, including academics, frontline staff and bereaved families.

Other results include:

  • Failed to address the seriousness of the pandemic before the March 2020 lockdown
  • Deep social inequality contributed to a more vulnerable population
  • Financial support for people in need of isolation was not sufficient to effectively reduce the spread of infection
  • The government’s delay in issuing advice to healthcare professionals and advice to the public on relying on NHS 111, contributed to the death toll from coronavirus
  • There was and remains a “misplaced dependence on vaccines alone”
  • Public health messages were often confused and contradictory

Sir. Mansfield said there had been no accountability and this could not be offset by the success of the vaccine rollout.

Jo Goodman, co-founder of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group that contributed to the study, said: ‘It is vital that the bereaved families are at the heart of the forthcoming study and listened to each time, and this report proves exactly why .

‘The loss of our loved ones should be used to learn homework and save lives – something the government should be completely focused on and dedicated to.’

The UK has the seventh highest death rate in the world by country – despite being relatively small – and registers more than 144,000 deaths within 28 days of a positive test and nearly 168,000 mentions of Covid-19 on death certificates.

It also has the fourth highest number of cases at 10 million – equivalent to more than every seventh person being infected.

The report will be formally launched at an event in Westminster on Wednesday morning.

It comes on the heels of a report by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, which outlines the key areas it wants the official inquiry to investigate.

These include the “abuse” of the NHS 111 service, pandemic preparedness and the disproportionate impact on black, Asian and ethnic minority groups.

A government spokeswoman said: ‘Covid-19 is an unprecedented pandemic that has challenged health systems around the world.

‘Thanks to our collective national efforts, our contingency plans and our front-line NHS staff, we have saved lives, vaccinated tens of thousands of people and prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed.

‘We prepared for a range of scenarios, and by implementing key elements in our influenza contingency plans, we were able to develop new means of tackling the virus quickly, such as by setting up our national testing program and rolling out millions of vaccines.

‘Every death resulting from this virus is a tragedy, and we have always said that there are still lessons to be learned from the pandemic, and that is why we have committed ourselves to a full public inquiry this spring.’

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