Boris’ pledge on inquiry for families bereaved by virus

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During a meeting in the Downing Street garden, five campaigners who lost loved ones to the virus shared their stories and urged him to ensure lessons were learnt.

Boris Johnson committed to appointing a chair of the inquiry before Christmas and said there was “a clear role for bereaved families” in the process.

Afterwards he said: “It was a very emotional meeting.

“And I listened to their very sad stories of the loss they’ve suffered. There’s very little I could say to mitigate their suffering. But I did say we were determined to make sure that the experience of the bereaved was something we took account of in the public inquiry.”

Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, said: “I hope hearing our stories impressed on him the need, because it is clear from all of our stories where things went wrong.” Jo, whose father Stuart died aged 72 in April 2020, said the meeting was a positive step but she was disappointed by a lack of urgency.

She said: “We see people not wearing masks in Parliament and the messaging from Government feels very much like they’re saying the pandemic is over. Yet we’re being told the delay to the inquiry is because the pandemic isn’t over.”

She said the inquiry should begin as soon as possible so other families do not have to suffer too.

Fran Hall, 60, said she asked the PM to look her in the eye as she told him what had happened to her husband Steve. He died last October three weeks after their wedding and on the eve of his 66th birthday. She added: “We all felt the responsibility of being the voices for so many bereaved families.”

Charlie Williams, 53, shared the story of his father Rex, who died aged 85 in April 2020 in a care home that had accepted infected patients from a hospital.

He said: “I feel we will get more answers once the inquiry begins.”

Other campaigners present were Lobby Akinnola and Hannah Brady.

After the meeting the group gathered at the National Covid Memorial Wall, near Westminster, which bears more than 150,000 hearts representing all those lost to the virus.

The PM agreed at the meeting the wall would be “a good candidate to be a permanent national memorial”.

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