Thursday, 10 March 2022

Covid 19 Inquiry

Updated 12, 13 and 16 March 2022

Update 27 June 2022

Covid 19:

According to Government Data, at 10 March 2022 there have been 162,624 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for coronavirus.

In the period 4 to 10 March, 371,662 new cases have been reported. 

The data shows a declining number of positive tests in January and February but, in March, there is a noticeable increase. There is also a noticeable increase in hospital admissions.

COVID-19: Pandemic 'not over', expert warns amid increasing hospital admissions among older people | UK News | Sky News and COVID-19: Cases up nearly 50% week-on-week - as expert accuses ministers of 'wanting to get rid of data and move on' | UK News | Sky News

Further statistical data is available from the Office for National Statistics - Home - Office for National Statistics (

UK Health Security Agency 10 March 2022 - COVID-19 prevalence continues to decline across England but infection rates remain high - GOV.UK (

See also Estimating excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic analysis of COVID-19-related mortality, 2020–21 - The Lancet


In May 2021, the Prime Minister announced

that there would be an inquiry - Law and Lawyers: Covid ~ announcement of an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 ( and, in December 2021 it was announced that Baroness Heather Hallett would chair the inquiry - Prime Minister announces COVID-19 Inquiry Chair - GOV.UK (


The UK-wide Inquiry has set up a website - UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry ( - and this gives details of key personnel - the Chair (Baroness Hallett), the Director of Inquiry Set-up (Ben Connah), the Solicitor to the Inquiry (Martin Smith of Freshfields LLP), and Counsel to the Inquiry (Hugo Keith QC of Three Raymond Buildings)  - About - UK Covid-19 Inquiry (

Terms of Reference:

DRAFT terms of reference have now been published - UK COVID-19 Inquiry: draft terms of reference (HTML) - GOV.UK ( - and those will be finalised following the consultation launched by the Inquiry. The draft TOR are wide-ranging. 

See the Inquiry Consultation which is open until 7 April 2022 - Consultation - UK Covid-19 Inquiry (

The inquiry has a UK-wide remit since it will "examine, consider and report on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, up to and including the inquiry’s formal setting-up date. In doing so, it will consider reserved and devolved matters across the United Kingdom, as necessary, but will seek to minimise duplication of investigation, evidence gathering and reporting with any other public inquiry established by the devolved administrations."

A separate inquiry has been set up in Scotland and terms of reference issued - Scottish government - Covid 19 inquiry and Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry - (  The inquiry will be chaired by Scottish judge Lady Anna Poole.


Inquiries are rarely rapid events. For example, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is still on-going almost 5 years after the fire although some reports have been published.

It has already been announced in a letter issued on 11 March 2022 (pdf) by Baroness Hallett that it is hoped to commence public hearings in 2023. This points toward a final report in 2024 (at the earliest) which is, of course, general election year (unless an election occurs sooner). 

The problems involved in setting up an inquiry are discussed in this most interesting discussion - (17) Lord Phillips, Sir Brian Leveson, Margaret Aldred - Setting Up the Covid Inquiry - YouTube


The aim of the Inquiry is to establish lessons that can be learned and thereby inform the UK's preparations for any future pandemics. 

Under section 2 of the Inquiries Act 2005 an inquiry panel is not to "rule on, and has no power to determine, any person's civil or criminal liability but is not to be inhibited in the discharge of its functions by any likelihood of liability being inferred from facts that it determines or recommendations that it makes."

Whilst legal liability cannot be established, an inquiry may criticise individuals either directly or indirectly.  Under Rule 13 of the Inquiries Rules 2006, an inquiry chairman is required to send a "Warning Letter" to any person - (a) the chairman considers may be, or who has been, subject to criticism in the inquiry proceedings, or (b) about whom criticism may be inferred from evidence that has been given during the inquiry proceedings, or (c) who may be subject to criticism in the report, or any interim report. This gives the individual a reasonable opportunity to make representations to the iquiry.


For a joint report by Parliament's Science and Technology Committee / Health and Social Care Committee please see the previous post of 12 October 2021

Coronavirus: lessons learned to date report published - Committees - UK Parliament

A more comprehensive list of the numerous reports issued by Parliament is available HERE. The extent to which these reports influenced government decision-making would, in itself, require a lengthy analysis.

*** The People's Inquiry ***

Home | PeoplesCovidInquiry

The People’s Covid Inquiry took place fortnightly from 24 February-16 June 2021. A panel of four, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, heard evidence from over 40 witnesses including bereaved families, frontline NHS and key workers, national and international experts, trade union and council leaders, and representatives from disabled people’s and pensioners’ organisations.

This Inquiry is not connected with the Covid 19 Inquiry set up by the government with Baroness Hallett as its chair. Nonetheless, their report is highly critical of the government's preparedness for, and handling of, the pandemic.

Other links:

COVID Bereaved Families for Justice – COVID Bereaved Families for Justice (

House of Commons Library Briefing 7 March 2022 - Statutory Public Inquiries: the Inquiries Act 2005

Law and Lawyers: Inquiries ~ update February 2022 (

Institute for Government 21 May 2018 - Public Inquiries


Covid inquiry's public hearings to begin in 2023 - BBC News

Voices: If you think you know how many Britons died during the pandemic, think again (

‘Pandemic is not over’: ministers criticised for scrapping UK Covid surveillance | Coronavirus | The Guardian

10 March 2022 with updates 12 March 2022

Update 27 June 2022

The Guardian - Johnson faces possible legal action over delay to Covid public inquiry

and note Inquiries Act 2005 section 5 (

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