Covid campaigner ‘accidentally’ blocked by Health Minister Eluned Morgan
Health Minister Eluned Morgan has denied deliberately blocking on social media the lead spokeswoman for the family members of Welsh people who died of Covid-19.
When asked, she said she simply didn’t know how to block anyone on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees represents the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, which has core participant status in the UK Covid Inquiry. Her father Ian Rees, 85, died in October 2020 after developing a gallbladder infection, testing negative for coronavirus and then being put on a supposedly “non-Covid” ward at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny.
It later turned out that 21 people on the ward actually had Covid – and that 12 of them died. Sadly, Mr Rees contracted the virus and himself died.
Ms Marsh-Rees founded the group with members of other bereaved families and they have been campaigning for transparency and accountability from political and NHS decision makers. The group has called for a Wales-specific public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic – so far unsuccessfully. In July 2023 Ms Marsh-Rees gave evidence at the UK Covid Inquiry in London and she is due to appear again when the inquiry comes to Cardiff for a fortnight from February 27. .
Both Ms Marsh-Rees and the group itself have interacted with politicians on social media, including Baroness Morgan. She says she was astonished to discover that the Minister had blocked her on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Using the group’s X account, she posted a message to Baroness Morgan which said: “Dear @Eluned_Morgan – it’s @AnnaLouiseMR here. I can’t communicate with you directly because you’ve blocked me. I have given up 3 years of my life to try & find out why my father & so many of our members’ loved ones died of nosocomial Covid. We’ve met with you twice to get answers. We’re still trying to understand how your nosocomial investigation works. Why you’ve just said @PublicHealthW is following @WHO masking guidelines when they’re not.
“We’re working with health boards on bereavement support & @ProfMarkTaubert on DNACPR [Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation] process. We talk & liaise with everyone possible to make sure the way we & our loved ones were treated doesn’t happen again .
“We have campaigned relentlessly to ensure Wales is properly represented in the UK Inquiry. This is because you refused a Wales one then set up a committee. I just want better for Wales.
“If you believe I’ve breached some X code of conduct you could have approached me directly rather than blocking the lead of the Covid bereaved families in Wales 3 weeks before the inquiry comes to Wales. Please can you reconsider your decision.”
Welsh Youth Parliament
Lloyd Warburton, a member of the Welsh Youth Parliament, wrote a post on X which said: “I would normally say that’s a badge of honour, but given her role, and what you’re campaigning for, it’s really not good enough from her. If she can’t handle difficult questions, she shouldn’t be health minister. Every passing week it becomes clearer why we need an inquiry.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru X account posted: “For anyone who’s ever met @AnnaLouiseMR (who leads us) you’ll know that she is never rude. Instead she asks the hard questions. The questions that @Eluned_Morgan clearly doesn’t want to answer.”
Baroness Morgan did not respond, although Ms Marsh-Rees’ account was then unblocked. In a short space of time, however, it was blocked again.
Ms Marsh-Rees was left speculating as to why she had been blocked. Did the Health Minister object that after she posted a video promoting the candidacy of Vaughan Gething in the Welsh Labour leadership election, Ms Marsh-Rees responded by posting a video of Mr Gething’s hapless appearance at the UK Covid Inquiry? Or was there some other slight that the “blocking baroness” had taken exception to?
The only way to find out was to seek a response from Eluned Morgan herself.
We spoke to her Cardiff office manager, who said she had no idea what had happened.
Shortly afterwards we received a genial phone call from the Minister herself, who said: “Whatever happened must have happened accidentally. I wouldn’t know how to block someone on X. I don’t tend to look at social media very much – I’ve had some very toxic messages. If people want to contact me, the best thing to do is to send me an email.”
She said she would ask office manager to unblock Ms Marsh-Rees – and within minutes that’s what happened.
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