Cost of Scottish Covid-19 inquiry hits nearly £8 million

Covid ward in hospital

The Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry has spent just under £8 million so far, new data shows.

The probe into Scotland’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was set up last February and has yet to hold any public hearings.

Officials said the inquiry has incurred a range of start-up costs including IT systems and premises.

The independent inquiry, which is funded by the Scottish government, has faced a number of delays including the resignation of chairwoman Lady Poole.

Lady Poole was replaced by Lord Brailsford and the inquiry is currently collecting the experiences of members of the public and how they thought the Scottish government handled the health crisis.

The first preliminary hearing of the Scottish inquiry will take place next month, where more details of its proposed hearings will be given.

Then the first so-called “impact hearings” about the health and social care aspects of the pandemic are set to get under way in late October.

These will run until December.

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry began last August and has already heard from a number of people involved in Scotland’s response to the pandemic, including the former first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The UK and Scottish inquiries have agreed, where possible, not to sit at the same time when they are considering material which is relevant to both.

This means the UK Covid-19 Inquiry will be sitting in Scotland in January of next year and the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry will not.

Instead, the next run of Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry hearings is expected to resume in February 2024.

Lord Brailsford
Lord Brailsford was appointed inquiry chairman in October last year

The total cost of the Scottish inquiry to 30 June was £7.8 million.

A spokesman for the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry said: “Costs involved with establishing and running an inquiry include staffing and infrastructure, such as IT systems, equipment, premises, and resourcing the legal, policy and other teams required to investigate the devolved strategic response to the pandemic.

“The legal team continues to carry out investigations and gather evidence.

“Work is ongoing towards the inquiry’s first public event, a presentation on the epidemiology of Covid-19 to be held on 26 to 27 July in Dundee, as well as a preliminary hearing in August, and further hearings on the impact of the pandemic on health and social care from October.”

Scotland has a number of high-profile public inquiries ongoing at the moment with the most expensive to date the statutory investigation of the abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland.

The longest running public inquiry is a probe into the first Edinburgh Tram project which has still to report its findings seven years after it started.

Public inquiries set up since 2007. . *inquiry ongoing.

The Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry will 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.

It will also make recommendations to Scottish ministers to ensure the country is better prepared in future.

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry heard from Ms Sturgeon and her former deputy John Swinney last month.

The pair were quizzed on how prepared the Scottish government was for the pandemic and how it handled it.

The hearing heard how the Scottish government clashed with Downing Street during the pandemic over approaches to suppressing the virus.

Ms Sturgeon also said preparations for dealing with a pandemic before Covid struck had “suffered” due to planning for a potential no-deal exit from the European Union.

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