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Boris Johnson faces two-day grilling at Covid inquiry over handling of pandemic

05 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Left to right Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a press conference at Downing Street. Photo Frank Augstein/PA Wire

Boris Johnson faces two days of questioning over his handling of the pandemic, as he appears before the UK Covid-19 Inquiry this week.

The former prime minister is expected to admit his government made mistakes in its Covid response, but its decisions ultimately saved lives.

Mr Johnson will also say that he followed the advice of scientists and did not lock down the country more quickly because herd immunity was initially favoured, the Telegraph reported.

His style of government at the height of the crisis has been sharply criticised by former colleagues, not least his ex-chief adviser turned nemesis Dominic Cummings.

‘Special hair dryer’

Mr Cummings claimed Mr Johnson asked scientists whether Covid could be destroyed by blowing a “special hair dryer” up noses.

He also alleged that Mr Johnson said he would rather “let the bodies pile high” than hit the economy with further restrictions – a claim supported by former senior aide Lord Udny-Lister, but which Mr Johnson previously denied.

Meanwhile, extracts from the diaries of former chief scientific adviser to the Government Sir Patrick Vallance suggested Mr Johnson wanted to let Covid “rip” and believed it was just “nature’s way of dealing with old people”.

And Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said that Mr Johnson and his inner circle were “basically feral”, messages shown to the inquiry disclosed.

Other key figures have defended aspects of the former PM’s record, including Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

The minister countered suggestions that Mr Johnson had oscillated in his response, saying he “preferred gladiatorial decision-making rather than inquisitorial”, with two or three different cases “rehearsed in front of him”.


Former health secretary Matt Hancock said Mr Cummings had been attempting to grab power from Mr Johnson and created a “toxic” culture at the heart of government which undermined its pandemic response.

He also suggested Mr Johnson would have been under “enormous pressure” from then-chancellor Rishi Sunak not to impose another lockdown.

Mr Hancock, in written evidence to the inquiry published on Friday, said Mr Johnson had apologised for hiring Mr Cummings to work in Downing Street.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “Boris Johnson will be at the Covid inquiry tomorrow and looks forward to assisting the inquiry with its important work.”

On Tuesday the Liberal Democrats repeated calls for the Government to “come clean” over the cost of Mr Johnson’s taxpayer-funded legal fees for the inquiry.

The party’s Cabinet Office spokeswoman, Christine Jardine, said: “Boris Johnson has already racked up thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded legal fees during the partygate probe.

“It is an insult to bereaved families that the Government won’t tell us how much is being spent on Johnson’s legal costs for the Covid inquiry.

“Rishi Sunak needs to come clean with the British people now, before even more taxpayers’ money is racked up paying Boris Johnson’s legal bills.”

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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
6 months ago

And what will be the outcome of this inquiry? Will there be any action taken against the neglect and blatant profiteering of politicians or will it just be a costly wait of time, largely ignored by government? I reckon it will be the latter. Many people, who lost loved ones due to incompetence, will get some answers but I suspect they will not get justice they deserve.

6 months ago

big dog got the big calls right will what he will say. Serial liar and cheat, boozing when people were dying, threatening to invade a EU country to get covid jabs, didn’t have a clue what anything meant when the experts were trying to tell him its going to be bad, he was prepared to let everyone die for his ego, allowed a massive fraud with PPE deals, the met only re investigated after good law project got involved then 120+ fines dropped, some parties remain un investigated. Russia investigation still spiked, Lebedev meeting just before lockdowns, Lebedev in the… Read more »

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
6 months ago

The uk has public inquiries where “lessons will be learned.” Other countries prefer justice with court cases and jail time for those that do the wrong thing.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago

Bozos’ appearance will follow the same line as the rest of the Tory shower. A little humility to start followed entirely by pure bloody minded arrogance and self bestowed pseudo superiority.

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