Go back

UK’s Covid inquiry holds first preliminary hearing

Image: UK Parliament [CC BY 3.0]

Meanwhile, the chair of the Scottish Covid inquiry steps down, citing personal reasons

The UK’s public inquiry into Covid-19 has held its first preliminary hearing today, as the Scottish inquiry faced a setback from losing its chair.

The one-day UK hearing dealt with procedural matters such as who would give evidence when witnesses are called in the spring of next year.

“The inquiry will analyse our state of readiness for the pandemic and the response to it,” said inquiry chair Heather Hallett (pictured), “and to determine whether that level of loss [of life]…was inevitable or whether things could have been done better.”

The inquiry has been split into separate sections that are being referred to as modules. The content of the first three modules has been announced as: planning and preparedness, political decision-making and healthcare.

The inquiry is expected to announce more modules in 2023. Today’s preliminary hearing focused on the country’s pandemic preparedness and response.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Scottish Covid-19 public inquiry, Anna Poole, gave notice of her resignation from the role due to personal reasons.

The Scottish independent statutory inquiry is looking at 12 areas of investigation, “each covering a strategic element of the handling of the pandemic, to identify lessons to be learned and recommendations as soon as practicable”.

In a letter to members of the Scottish Parliament on 3 October, deputy first minister John Swinney confirmed that Poole, a senator of the College of Justice of Scotland, was stepping down.

Swinney said Poole had offered to assist with the transition to her successor during a notice period of up to three months. He added that he would provide updates to Parliament about a replacement chair at the earliest opportunity.

“The Scottish government, and I know the independent inquiry team, remain committed to this vital exercise, and people who wish to can continue to engage with the inquiry,” he added.