The media has reported that Boris Johnson has been accused of attempting to alter the narrative before his scheduled appearance at the Covid inquiry on Wednesday. Unions and family members of the deceased have stated that his team has been providing positive stories to newspapers.
The TUC and Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, both core participants for this module of the inquiry, said the briefings had been about trying to salvage his legacy and contained “the usual lies and bluster”.
Johnson’s team allegedly assisted in generating favorable articles for newspapers prior to his appearance.
Although briefings are allowed, they are not permitted if they contain information from materials given to the inquiry, such as witness statements. Heather Hallett, the head of the inquiry, specifically cautioned against sharing details from witness statements in October.
Johnson’s supporters maintain that he is innocent of these accusations and claim that the supposed quotes from his testimony, as reported in one article, must have been obtained from a different origin.
If Lady Hallett holds a contrasting perspective, Johnson’s already uneasy 48 hours of being interrogated by inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC could potentially start with a direct scolding.
Following the disclosure of “offensive and sexist” WhatsApp conversations involving Dominic Cummings, former chief aide to Johnson, on George Osborne’s podcast, Hallett advised all individuals with access to evidence to honor the terms of its sharing.
According to sources, there are technical difficulties preventing the recovery of Prime Minister Johnson’s six months’ worth of WhatsApp messages from the beginning of the pandemic and lockdown.
Nathan Oswin, the head of the TUC inquiry, stated that the purpose of the inquiry is to understand and prevent future tragedies. He emphasized that it should not be exploited by politicians seeking to improve their reputations and portray a different version of events. Oswin called for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to adhere to ethical standards and prioritize the well-being of the public over their own political ambitions.
Matt Fowler, a representative for the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, stated that it seems Boris Johnson’s team has been sharing his written testimony widely before his scheduled appearance tomorrow. As expected, the accusations he is making are the typical deceit and bravado.
The investigation has thoroughly disproven the assertion that “he made the correct decisions under pressure”. In truth, when news of the pandemic initially emerged, Johnson treated it with a dismissive attitude and as the number of cases increased, he postponed implementing strict measures, resulting in thousands of avoidable deaths, including my father’s. To make matters worse, when the second wave hit, he made the same errors, resulting in even more fatalities than the first wave.
A reliable source near Johnson claims that his team did not release any evidence beforehand and expresses their dismay in the situation.
Grieving family members and others are anticipated to demonstrate outside the hearing location in Paddington, west London, upon Johnson’s arrival. He is the sole witness for this week’s portion of the inquiry, which investigates decision-making and government frameworks during the Covid pandemic.
Johnson is anticipated to acknowledge mistakes were made, while attempting to justify some accomplishments such as the quick distribution of the initial vaccine and the prompt reopening of the economy as the pandemic improved.
He has been extensively briefed by his own legal team for several hours. However, like all witnesses, he will be facing Keith and barristers representing core participants without any assistance or written notes.
In addition to a timeline of choices, he will probably also be questioned about the setup and individuals involved in the Downing Street team, which has been characterized by past witnesses as fostering a “climate of intimidation,” “toxic,” and “insane.”