Campaigners representing families whose loved ones have died from coronavirus have accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “heartless” in declining to meet with them.
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said it wrote to Mr Johnson five times to request a meeting.
Asked by reporters about the letters, the PM said he would “of course” meet anyone bereaved by Covid-19.
But days later he wrote to the group to say he was “unable” to meet them.
The group, which says it represents 1,600 families, said it was “devastated” to receive the letter, which it has made public.
Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: “The prime minister has done a 360 – dodging five letters, then agreeing on live TV to meet with us, and now quietly telling us he’s too busy. It’s heartless.”
“Of course we know the prime minister can’t meet every bereaved person, but we really feel he should be meeting one of the largest groups of bereaved families in the country.”
Ms Goodman, who lost her father Stuart to the virus, added: “It feels like we’re the wrong type of bereaved people – like the prime minister only wants to meet with people who will smile and not ask difficult questions.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said the PM remained committed to meeting people who have been bereaved as a result of Covid-19, and that he was “resolute in his determination to beat this virus” to prevent further “dreadful loss”.
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is calling for an independent, judge-led, statutory public inquiry into coronavirus deaths, which it wants to begin imminently.
Unlike other inquiries, a statutory public inquiry has the power to subpoena people and take evidence under oath.
In a TV interview on 26 August, Mr Johnson was asked about the group’s claim to have written to him five times to request a meeting.
Mr Johnson said he was not aware of the letters but that he would meet with “anybody” who has lost a loved one to the virus.
“I will write back to every letter we get and of course I will meet anybody… the bereaved who’ve suffered from Covid. Of course I’ll do that,” he said.
- Start Covid-19 inquiry now, say bereaved families
- PM promises an independent coronavirus inquiry
- Bereaved Covid families ask for meeting with PM
In a letter from 29 August, published by the group, the prime minister offered his “sincere condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones”.
But he added: “As much as I would wish to be able to offer my condolences in person to all those who have suffered loss, that is regrettably not possible and so I am unable to meet with you and members of Bereaved Families for Justice.”
Mr Johnson went on to say there would be an “independent inquiry at the appropriate time”, and that as the campaign group has instructed solicitors, any further correspondence relating to an inquiry “should pass through the respective legal teams.”
In July the prime minister committed to an independent inquiry into the pandemic, but has repeatedly said now was not the right time.
What could an inquiry look like?
Independent inquiries can take many forms – from full public inquiries that can take years, or in some cases decades, and cost millions of pounds; to smaller scale, more fleet-footed investigations.
The idea is to hold the powerful to account and try to learn lessons from decisions that have gone wrong, and how to avoid repeating scandals and tragic events in the future.
Recent examples of judge-led inquiries include the Leveson inquiry into media standards, or the ongoing inquiry into the Grenfell Tower catastrophe.
Other inquiries, such as 2009 Iraq inquiry, headed by a retired senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot, do not take evidence under oath.
The government of the day is normally expected to adopt many, if not all, of the recommendations of an official inquiry, although it does not always work out like that in practice.
Sources from: BBC News
SVE NEWS is the leader in world news liberal sharing.
(Comments on this news are welcome)
2020 CWMALLS: Standard, Sharing,Ecology, Value;
2020 CWMALLS COMMODITY: Patent, Technology, Art, Intelligence;
2020 CWMALLS NEW SPECIES: Keen, Aggressive, Personality, Value;
2020 MWE FUND: Charity, Public Welfare, Responsibility;
Tips: Due to the influence of Coronavirus, the 2020 Northern Hemisphere will be very cold, so please pay attention to the CWMALLS patented products series in order to prepare for prevention; consumers, distributors, live broadcasters, opinion leaders and other partners in Europe region, North America region, Asia Pacific region, please pay attention to CWMALLS NEWS! According to the prediction of CWMALLS Weather, 2020 winter of Northern Hemisphere (especially in North American region and European region) will be much colder than previous years, the situation in the movie The Day After Tomorrow might happen, hope everyone (especially the middle-aged and elderly people with diseases like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, scapulohumeral periarthritis, etc., and friends who live in cold areas, high altitude areas and extremely cold areas) to prepare for keeping out the cold! Scientific and reasonable prevention makes life become easier and more wonderful! Meanwhile, CWMALLS® Patented Product Series is also provided with Custom Made, Personal Tailor services, and appreciated and interacted synchronously via Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter,YouTube, Pinterest , LinkedIn, VK and other sharing platforms; welcome worldwide web celebrities, fashion icons, opinion leaders, columnists and other friends, partners to comprehend and cooperate actively! Thank you! In 2020 CWMALLS people, CWMALLS team, CWMALLS complex will bring you more surprises and values!