Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Boris Johnson risks legal action from 1,400 families who lost loved-ones to coronavirus

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The families have accused ministers of failing to own up to mistakes they made during what is the biggest public health crisis of a generation. The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is made up of 1,450 people whose relatives have died from coronavirus.

The group is calling for a judge-led inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed 46,413 people in the UK.

On Wednesday members of the group told MPs at an All-Party Group on Coronavirus that Mr Johnson had “pretty much ignored us”.

They said the Prime Minister remained silent on the matter after three letters were sent to No10.

Jo Goodman, co-organiser of the campaign, told MPs members believe their concerns are being sidelined by Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Ms Goodman told the meeting: “We wrote to the Prime Minister three times beginning on 11 June asking for him to meet with bereaved families, and also Matt Hancock – calling for a public inquiry and to meet with us and hear our experiences.

“At first we only received a two-line acknowledgement and we eventually received a letter that said they are unable to meet with us due to the current pandemic.

“Obviously, given what we want to meet with them about … it feels as if we’re being swept under the carpet.

“I’d say speak to us.

“We really do want to ensure other people don’t go through this and we think it’s really important that bereaved families’ voices are heard.”

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Ms Goodman, who helped found the campaign, lost her father Stuart to coronavirus.

He passed away in April after he attended a hospital for an outpatient appointment.

Also giving evidence at the meeting of MPs was fellow campaigner Hannah Brady, whose father Shaun died of the virus in May.

He was a key worker and had no underlying health conditions.

Ms Brady told MPs the Government had responded to the pandemic in a “sluggish” manner.

She said: “Dad had a lot of reasons to live, his daughters, his families, his community, his charity work, but he only needed one reason to die – the Government’s sluggish response to the threat of COVID-19 to our country.”

Another member of the group named Charlie also spoke to lawmakers, having lost his father Vernute to the virus in a care home on April 20.

Kathryn, whose dad Tony died on April 14, also spoke at the meeting.

Elkan Abrahamson, the lawyer representing the bereaved families, said: “Legal action is a last resort and one we and the families want to avoid but unless the government speaks to us and acts we have no choice.”

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