We are a group of over 1,400 bereaved family members who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 working to save others from the same heartbreak.
Therefore, we are now raising funds to see the case through to completion. Though our lawyers are currently working pro-bono, we need to pay the legal fees associated with taking the case to court and cover the costs in the event that our challenge fails. We believe that our case is strong and that with right on our side we are confident of our success, however we must be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Throughout the course of our campaign, it has been our sincerest aim to ensure as many families as possible don’t go through the anguish of losing their loved ones as we have. The government’s ever changing messages, U-turns and poor strategy is proving that they have not learned from their failures at the start of the pandemic. It is absolutely crucial that we act now. We need to ask the pressing questions and establish the facts about what went wrong before it is too late. A potential 120,000 further lives teeter in the balance and every second counts towards saving those lives.
The UK has one of the highest death tolls in the world.
The official UK death toll from Covid-19 has risen to above 45,000 with excess deaths of over 65,000.
In recent months, it has become clear that the UK hasn’t ended up with one of the highest death tolls in the world by coincidence. Gaps in the country’s pandemic preparedness, delays to locking down, no fit-for-purpose testing or tracing regime, inadequate supplies of PPE and the policy of discharging into care homes among other issues have all been identified as having contributed to the level of the death toll. Black, Asian and other minority communities have been disproportionately impacted.
In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has admitted that the government didn’t truly understand the virus in the first weeks and months of the crisis. Despite this they continue to make bold assertions about their apparent success and pride in their record. There has been a conscious effort to skew the narrative and protect their public image at the expense of public safety. This has been deeply hurtful for the bereaved who have not only had to endure the traumatic loss of their loved ones but also that those losses are being presented as a success by the country’s leadership.
Now in the depths of summer, the government is sharing plans to further relax lockdowns and to do away with social distancing by November despite warnings from scientific advisors about a second wave. It has even been suggested that life could get back to normal by Christmas.
For many, life will never go “back to normal” as they try to process the sudden loss of their loved ones. To them, these are not statistics, but real, living people.
It seems that lessons have not been learned from the unnecessary deaths we have already experienced and now our fears that more families will experience the same loss is set to become a tragic reality.
We must hold the government accountable and act to save lives.
For these reasons, we are calling on the government to start an immediate public inquiry into its approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister has confirmed that he is committed to an ‘independent inquiry’, but with no commitment as to whether that will be a statutory public inquiry with input from bereaved families, full disclosure of evidence and the ability to compel witnesses to participate. Nor did he give any commitment as to when this inquiry should begin.
We reject the government’s assertion that ‘there will be a time to ask questions’ or that looking at what has happened so far will be a distraction from tackling the pandemic in the here and now. In fact, we believe quite the opposite that beginning to look at what has happened up until now is a crucial part of being able to face what comes next.
What we have asked the Prime Minister:
On 11 June 2020 we wrote to the Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Mr Matt Hancock, with an urgent written petition from the families calling for an IMMEDIATE public Inquiry. We asked the Government to meet with the bereaved families and asked for a response 7 days from the letter. We did not receive any response at all. The number of bereaved family members within our group then doubled to over 1,000 members.
On 22 June 2020 we again wrote to Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock expressing our disappointment that we had not even received an acknowledgement to our letter and request that they meet with the bereaved families.
On 29 June 2020 10 Downing Street provided a terse response to simply acknowledge receipt of our earlier letters. The letter did not offer condolences or acknowledge that the letter was sent on behalf of 1,000 bereaved family members.
On 3 July 2020 we sent a further letter again asking for the Government to meet with us.
On 16 July 2020 we received a response from a civil servant confirming that Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock would not be able to meet with us "due to the pandemic".
The Prime Minister will not engage with us – so what next?
The group DO NOT want to unnecessarily begin a legal challenge against the Government’s refusal to begin an immediate public Inquiry. However, we have tried to communicate with the Government and we have met a brick wall. We are frustrated and disappointed that the Government are refusing to engage with the bereaved families.
We are still urging a meeting to discuss with Government how we envisage an immediate public Inquiry would benefit the public and prevent future deaths.
Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights recognises the requirement of the State to hold an inquiry into controversial deaths. It also recognises that the bereaved have a right to effectively participate in this inquiry as we have the greatest interest into the facts and accountability around those deaths. This means we are well placed to take action through the courts.
The question has been asked as to why the inquiry must happen now. There is precedent for this type of inquiry, specifically the first phase of the Taylor Inquiry into the Hillsborough Disaster was initiated within days and began to hear evidence with a month of the event. This produced an interim report in less than three and a half months, enabling changes to be made immediately to prevent disasters like it from happening again. It was deemed a matter of public safety with immediate necessity. With the possibility of a second and further future waves on the horizon, we believe wholeheartedly that the same immediate danger to public safety necessitates action now before it is too late.
As the Government has continued to ignore the bereaved families, we feel that we must now take steps to bring a legal challenge to ask the High Court to consider the Government’s failure to act.
Help us bring a legal action to the High Court over the Government's failure to act
Donate - if we are forced to bring legal action, we need to raise funds to support our claim.
We aim to raise funds to cover the cost of Court fees, the risk of bereaved families having to pay the Government's costs if we do not succeed, other legal fees and campaigning costs.
If we do not raise enough to go to court or do not have to use everything we raise, funds will be used to support our campaigning activities to hold the government to account and give a voice to bereaved families including covering organisational set-up costs, professional campaign support and other campaigning costs.
- Share our petition on change.org
- Share our Crowdfunding page.
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- Sign up to our mailing list on https://www.covidfamiliesforjustice.org/contact-us/
Thank you for generous support in this difficult time.
All at Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice