An independent public inquiry into the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will begin in spring of next year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.
Boris Johnson shared the news in a statement to MPs today (May 12), telling them that the inquiry will put “the state’s actions under the microscope”.
“Amid such tragedy, the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future,” he said.
“So, I can confirm today that the government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 – including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath.”
He continued: “This inquiry must be able to look at the events of the last year in the cold light of day and identify the key issues that will make a difference for the future.
“Free to scrutinize every document to hear from all the key players and analyze and learn from the breadth of our response.
“That’s the right way, I think, to get the answers that the people of this country deserve and to ensure that our United Kingdom is better prepared for any future pandemic.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 127,000 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test while over 150,000 deaths have mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate.
The inquiry will examine the government’s response and handling of the pandemic and will have legal powers to take oral evidence in public under oath.
The Prime Minister said spring 2022 is the “right moment” for the inquiry to begin given the potential threat of new variants and a possible resurgence of the virus in winter.
He added that his government will work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in setting up the inquiry.