By Charlie Loran • 02 September 2020 • 11:30
Boris Johnson has refused to meet with members of a campaign group who represent families bereaved by Covid-19, despite previously promising to do so on live TV last week August, 24.
COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, says it represents 1,600 bereaved families, they are campaigning for a public inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic and is taking legal action to force one, sending pre-action letters to the government.
Challenged live on Sky News about repeated requests from the group for a face-to-face meeting, the prime minister said he was “not aware” of their letters, but “of course” he would meet them.
A letter from the prime minister has since been made public and the prime minister now declines to meet the group’s representatives, saying it was “regrettably not possible.”
In the letter, signed by the prime minister, Johnson said he was “acutely conscious that a letter will be of little comfort against the grief and heartbreak that families have suffered.”
Johnson assured the group he would announce an independent inquiry “at the appropriate time” but said all correspondence had to go through the government legal department because of the legal challenge mounted by the group.
The group’s founder, Jo Goodman, who lost her father, Stuart, from Covid-19, said the prime minister had ignored five letters and had now done “a U-turn followed by a U-turn” by agreeing and then refusing a meeting.
She said the group totally understood that the prime minister could not meet every bereaved person, but that her group was one of the largest in the country.
“We think it’s critical the PM hears the experiences of families bereaved by Covid-19, many of whom can shed light on serious systemic and policy failings that contributed to the death of their loved ones: from deaths in care homes to inadequate protective equipment,” she said.
“If the prime minister had replied to our first letter back in June, a rapid review could be reporting right now: giving crucial lessons on how to save lives as the virus spikes again, as we’re seeing in locations in Europe and across the country,” Said Goodman.
A Downing Street spokesperson stated: “The prime minister has responded to Bereaved Families for Justice to express his sincere condolences to all families who have sadly lost loved ones to this terrible disease.”
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