Scottish Government Announces Its Own Public Covid Inquiry

The Scottish government has announced it will hold its own independent public inquiry by the end of the year into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

John Swinney, the deputy first minister, said on Tuesday it would ensure “lessons are learned for the future”.

He said the feedback from bereaved families would be “fundamental” in shaping how the inquiry unfolds.

“Discussions are also ongoing with the UK government on the planned four nations inquiry, to ensure all areas that need to be considered are covered in a way that gives confidence to bereaved families and others,” Swinney added.

Boris Johnson has committed to holding a UK-wide inquiry, but it is not due to start until Spring 2022.

The prime minister said it will examine “rigorously” the UK government’s response to the pandemic.

But he said to hold the inquiry any sooner would “weigh down” officials while they were still dealing with the virus.

Groups supporting the bereaved relatives of care home residents who died during the coronavirus pandemic have previously said they will seek to become core participants of the inquiry.

Two organisations – John’s Campaign and the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) – have told the government they will apply for the status when the legal process allows.

In addition, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, which represents those who have lost loved ones, has told the government it should have core participant status and work must start immediately now restrictions are lifted.

Core participants can make opening and closing statements when oral evidence hearings start, see any inquiry report in advance of publication, and their legal representative can apply for permission to question witnesses.

In granting a person or organisation core participant status, the inquiry chairman must consider whether they played a direct and significant role or have significant interest in the matters the inquiry will examine.

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