‘Give the bereaved families what they deserve, set up a Wales Covid inquiry,’ call
Calls for Wales to have its own Covid inquiry have been made again following an admision that the ongoing UK inquiry “cannot cover every issue” relating to Wales.
On the first day of the UK Covid inquiry, Baroness Hallet said, in reference to the calls for scrutiny of decisions made in Wales throughout the pandemic: “I have to emphasise, we can’t cover every issue, we cannot cover, or call every witness, we are going to have to focus on the most significant and the most important decisions”.
Baroness Hallet also indicated that it would still be possible for a Wales-specific inquiry, saying: “If a Wales enquiry is set up, I will work with them and cooperate to the best of my ability to ensure that between us we cover all the issues that people of Wales would wish to see covered.”
She stressed that it would not be a decision for her to make, and that she is “completely neutral” on the question.
All the main opposition parties in Wales have called for a Wales-only-inquiry, as have campaign groups such as the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru (CBFJC). But the Welsh Government has argued that a UK-wide inquiry will be the best way to examine decisions made in the four UK nations.
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru’s health and care spokesperson, has backed calls for a Welsh inquiry since the beginning of Covid and supported calls by the Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru.
Responding to Baroness Hallett’s comments, Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “Campaigners for the bereaved families in Wales have been vindicated with confirmation by the UK Inquiry Chair that she won’t be able to look at all the relevant issues in Wales, and that not all decisions made in Wales throughout the pandemic will be scrutinised.
“This far from settles the matter for those who continue to be angered by this avoidance of scrutiny.
“Plaid Cymru have called since the early days of the pandemic for decisions made in Wales – good and bad – to be scrutinised in Wales by a Wales-specific inquiry. The Labour Welsh Government must take ownership of their decisions.
“But the Labour Welsh Government can still change their minds, give the bereaved families what they deserve. Set up a Wales Covid inquiry now, before it really is too late.”
‘What we all feared’
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS also made the call for a Wales-specific Covid inquiry.
She said: “The Chair’s comments reflect what we all feared; that the UK Covid inquiry won’t cover Welsh-specific decisions in enough detail.
“Decisions made in Wales, by our devolved Government were often different and had an impact, be it negative or positive. The Welsh Government made specific political capital out of this point multiple times.
“The bereaved families of Wales deserve an inquiry that pays full attention to that decision-making in Cardiff Bay.
“My party strongly believes in devolution, if Welsh Labour also do they need to understand that with increased powers comes increased scrutiny. An inquiry is not about apportioning blame, but rather learning vital lessons and ensuring we have a robust health system going forward.
“The First Minister and Welsh Labour should urgently set up a Wales-specific Covid inquiry. Baroness Hallet herself today indicated it is not too late to do so.”
The Welsh Conservatives have called for Welsh Ministers’ WhatsApp messages to be disclosed to the UK-wide inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic.
Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has urged the inquiry to seek access to private messages between Government ministers and officials in Cardiff Bay after the Covid inquiry asked to see Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages when he was Prime Minister, alongside communications with other senior officials.
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