One year on Covid Inquiry reboot must bring new hope to families of victims
Lord Brailsford and Alex Cole Hamilton, Scottish Liberal leader.
By Lucy Ashton
Marking one year on from the appointment of Lady Poole to lead the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today urged the inquiry to bring “new hope” to families of Covid victims and reiterated his party’s calls for interim findings within a year.
In October, the inquiry’s former chair, Lady Poole, stepped down for “personal reasons” and she has now been replaced by a new chair, Lord Brailsford. Lady Poole’s resignation was swiftly followed by the resignation of four members of the inquiry’s legal team.
The inquiry aims to investigate areas such as pre-pandemic planning, the decision to go into lockdown, the supply and distribution of personal protective equipment and how the virus was dealt with in care homes. To date, the inquiry has cost the Scottish taxpayer more than £2 million.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “As it is sure to be one of the most important public inquiries in our parliament’s history, the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry must be rooted in the stories of victims.
“Previous public inquiries have been plagued by delays and vast costs. That’s why twelve months ago, I called for this inquiry to deliver its first interim report within a year.
“Recent events might make some question whether this inquiry will fall into the same bear-traps.
“The new chair must set those doubts to right. People deserve a thorough public inquiry which can go anywhere, speak to anyone and demand answers for all those Scots who have suffered due to Covid-19.
“Now that Lord Brailsford has taken over, I would urge him to commit to deliver those interim inquiry findings by this time next year. As time passes, documentation is lost and memories fade; these findings would lay down important markers and records to prevent that. There is also no guarantee that a pandemic on this scale is a once-in-a-hundred-years affair, so these findings should set out how mistakes can be avoided if it were ever to happen again.
“Last time, the Scottish Government’s narrow and shallow pandemic exercise failed us badly, but this inquiry can provide new hope for families of victims and lay down critical early learning for the future.”