On 12 May 2021, Boris Johnson announced a statutory public inquiry into the UK Government’s handling of the pandemic and that it would begin in Spring 2022. This report outlines the key findings and recommendations made by the APPG on Coronavirus, highlighting the importance of starting the public inquiry as soon as possible. It is essential that the public inquiry publishes its interim findings within two years, and importantly, before the next UK general election. Thus, the UK Government must urgently set out a timetable for the inquiry to begin and in turn, report its findings.
First and foremost, however, the UK Government must ensure the independence and impartiality of the public inquiry. The APPG recommends that the terms of reference of the inquiry should be determined by public consultation, with the public being continually informed on the progress of the inquiry. Both elements are essential to ensure public trust in the process.
The APPG acknowledges that the management of the pandemic has not been solely the competence of the UK Government. It is therefore essential that consideration and coordination with different inquiries, namely the public inquiries of devolved nations, is given. In addition, the APPG finds that the inquiry must be structured in a way that ensures the aforementioned timely reporting. As such, the APPG recommends that the inquiry is divided into different ‘workstreams’ overseen by sub-panels of experts with knowledge of the fields being scrutinised would enable concurrent working on different aspects of the pandemic.
Above all, the purpose of the public inquiry is to ensure that mistakes made are prevented from happening again. As such, the inquiry must ensure that its recommendations are practical and can be readily implemented. All interim and sub-panel reports should be made publicly available.
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