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Gething ‘unfit to be First Minister’ says Covid Bereaved group

25 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething press conference.

Martin Shipton

Vaughan Gething is unfit to be First Minister because of his dire performance as Health Minister during the pandemic, according to a group representing families whose relatives died of Covid.

Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees, lead spokesperson for Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme: “I absolutely do not [believe he is fit to be FM]. Quite frankly the evidence he gave in Module 1 [of the UK Covid Inquiry] was shocking. It’s the only time I cried. I sat through every single session, either in the room or remotely.

“He was casual, he was arrogant, he had not read a single document or knew anything about it. It was frankly eye-opening. He said the other day that he was looking forward to the inquiry.

“Can he imagine what that feels like and sounds like to the bereaved or anyone impacted by the pandemic? He’s been almost using his response to the pandemic as a way of promoting himself. That’s frankly shocking and unacceptable.”

Decision-making

From February 27 the UK Inquiry will be sitting in Cardiff for just over two weeks, looking at the decision-making of key groups and individuals within the Welsh Government, particularly between early January and late March 2020, when the first national lockdown was imposed. The Welsh Government has resisted pressure to have a Wales-specific inquiry.

Asked by presenter Vaughan Roderick whether she thought the UK Inquiry would satisfy her group’s desire to see justice done and lessons learned, Ms Marsh-Rees said: “I think the UK Inquiry so far has done a very good job of being very probing and forensic, and it’s no disrespect to the UK Inquiry and the Chair, who has put the bereaved at the front and centre of everything.

“It’s more the lack of time that it’s going to be able to spend looking at matters in Wales. It’s 12 working days, but only nine and a half of those are going to be questioning witnesses. it’s going to be very challenging to cover all the matters.”

Science

Explaining what needed to be examined, Ms Marsh-Rees said: “We’re always fed the line that Wales did things differently. Well, we want to know what different science Wales was following and why. Most of our families were impacted by hospital- and care home-acquired Covid, so lack of PPE, very delayed testing, discharging from hospitals into care homes, care home workers, hospital workers, the lack of any mention of it being airborne, the washing of hands when that was not effective on Covid.

“We also want to understand this so-called four nations approach. Was it a four nations approach or was it not? We get access to tens of thousands of bits of disclosure, as we’re core participants [in the Inquiry], so we can see the varying views on what happened. We really need to get to the bottom of that.

“I’m imploring any ministers who are listening today to please be candid, please be transparent. We’ve waited a long time for this. We’ve transformed from a group of lost, sad, traumatised and shocked families to one of true agents of change. The Inquiry for us is not a means to an end , but it is the way of getting answers to all of those questions that we’ve not been able to get so far.”

Parties

Ms Marsh-Rees said she believed that in the coverage of the pandemic there had been “way too much focus” on parties of the kind that took place in Downing Street. She said: “Yes, there’s a perception that it was really, really bad, but the focus needs to be on why the decisions were made.

Why did anyone think that the minute you got west of Offa’s Dyke, the science changed? Why were lockdowns different? Why did our chief medical officer not mandate masks? I think we were three months after England. Testing was deemed not important by him, despite the World Health Organisation saying ‘test, test, test’. We have access to many pieces of disclosure including WhatsApps, notebooks – tens of thousands of these – and some of them are very revealing.

“No one is denying it was a difficult time and there were decisions to be made. But we want to see evidence of why those decisions were made. Of course, everyone will be under oath, so what people say in interviews may be quite different to what they will say when it really matters.”

After the programme Ms Marsh-Rees told Nation.Cymru: “At the crucial time we need leaders that are competent, structured and qualified for their role, but most of all have integrity and a moral compass.

“That’s basically a no to someone with Vaughan Gething’s traits. The least we can learn from the pandemic is that we must have transparency and candour and a genuine desire to do what’s right for all of the UK.”

Mr Gething’s campaign was invited to respond, but declined to do so.

More information on Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru is available here and their email address is [email protected]


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Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

The Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, from the above and earlier statements, appear to come from the standpoint that the disgraced Boris Johnson’s government always followed the science correctly and the Welsh Government did not. This is is the only conclusion to make from the following: “We’re always fed the line that Wales did things differently. Well, we want to know what different science Wales was following and why”. “Why did anyone think that the minute you got west of Offa’s Dyke, the science changed? Why were lockdowns different?”

Bereaved and Knowlegable
Bereaved and Knowlegable
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

She probably knows Offa’s Dyke intimately after sneaking into Wales from her home in England when our border was closed. In is in her evidence she gave to the UK Covid Inquiry in Module 2. Laughed about it!

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

Please let him not win.

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

I think this is one of the cases where he did ok, given the games from England. I felt us in Cymru did better, was more clear, upset the anti maskers and fools arguing utter stupidity. After all this group is for those who sadly died. Well our government got it in the neck for being to strict at times, from the English press and second home owners and Davina McCall who needed to sell a book and her followers. What has come to light about his donors etc that make him unviable to me, not Covid response.

William
William
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Let us have the results of the investigation before decisions made

William
William
1 month ago

Well said. We should wait for the results of the Covid investigation before he even gets considered. My mother was put into a care home in 2019. She then contracted COVID in 2020. Hitler could not kill her in the 1940’s in the Navy but assembly action nearly finished her in her 90’s. Why did he go to London at the beginning of the pandemic to come back and go into self isolation. Not very intelligent. Did he organise that a testing centre be set up in Cardiff city grounds to test medical staff from Gwent. Well thought out bringing… Read more »

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