Bereaved families ‘betrayed’ as Scottish Covid inquiry hit by resignations

Bereaved families feel betrayed by the Scottish Covid-19 public inquiry, a leading lawyer has said, following a string of resignations from the investigation.

It comes after four members of the inquiry’s legal team stood down and its chair, Lady Poole, resigned for “personal reasons”.

Insiders told The Times that relations between the lawyers and the judge, Lady Poole, had broken down.

High Court judge Lady Poole has stepped down from the Scottish Covid-19 inquiry

High Court judge Lady Poole has stepped down from the Scottish Covid-19 inquiry.

Mr Anwar, who represents Scottish families bereaved by Covid, said it was “ironic and deeply worrying” that a UK inquiry is under way while Scotland’s probe “appears to have stalled”.

He tweeted: “The bereaved families believe the Scottish public inquiry very much looks like a sinking ship.

“The writing was on the wall for some time and the families deserve better. So far they feel betrayed by those who promised them the truth.”

The families of more than 20 people from West Dunbartonshire who died of Covid 19 in local care homes will be represented at the inquiry.

A spokesman for the Scottish Covid-19 inquiry said: “We can confirm that four members of the counsel team have left the inquiry.

“We are immensely grateful for their contribution to the inquiry’s progress and wish them every success.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government’s focus is ensuring “that we get somebody in place to replace Lady Poole and, indeed, the counsel that have stood down”.

He added: “We want it to be an absolute open book, transparent inquiry.”

Asked when the first meetings will take place, he said: “It’s really important that when a public inquiry is established, we allow the chair to dictate the timescale and the timetable and not Government to interfere in that.

Lawyer Amer Anwar and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

“That is why the inquiry has to be truly independent, so it’s not for me to tell a chair of an inquiry, ‘Look, you’ve got to get a move on, start hearings here, there or whenever.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “A public inquiry operates independently of ministers. As a result, the procedure, conduct and operation of the inquiry, including staffing and counsel appointments, are matters for the chair.

“The Scottish Government is keen to help ensure the excellent progress made so far by the inquiry is continued. Consequently, work to appoint a new chair is being progressed at pace.

“The Deputy First Minister has already spoken with the Lord President about arrangements for appointing a new judicial chair.

“Having advised MSPs on Monday he undertook to provide a further update to Parliament about a replacement chair at the earliest opportunity.”

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