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