31 Aug 2021

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The call for a Wales Covid-19 Inquiry – An open letter for the First Minister

Following on from last week’s announcement that Scotland is to initiate a Statutory Public Inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the pressure continues to mount on the Welsh Government to follow suit.

Today, The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru Group have delivered a letter to Mark Drakeford, First Minister for Wales, calling for a meeting between the Welsh Government and a delegation of the families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

At present, there are no plans in place for a separate Welsh Inquiry despite both health and social care being devolved in Wales and controlled and managed by the Welsh Government. The primary focus of this letter is to request a Welsh specific inquiry for the families and arranging a meeting is the first step in this process.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru Group, said ‘We have delivered this letter to the First Minister today requesting the opportunity to meet with him face to face. Wales has suffered huge loss during the pandemic and we, as the bereaved families want answers. We are keen to ensure that lessons are learned and believe the only way for this truly to happen is for Wales to have its own inquiry’.

Solicitor Craig Court, partner at Harding Evans, who is representing the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru and delivered the letter on the groups behalf, said ‘Delivering this letter to the First Minister today is the next crucial step in the process for these families. We continue to seek greater transparency and accountability and we encourage the Welsh Government and their representatives to meet with the families so we can open up the dialogue further’.

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AN OPEN LETTER

Dear First Minister/Annwyl Prif Weinidog

We have been instructed by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru Group who, as the name suggests, are all family members that have sadly lost loved ones in Wales during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are currently in excess of 100 members of the Group with more people joining following recent media activity, which the Group intends to continue with vigour.

We write to invite you to meet with a delegation of families so that they are able to explain their lived experiences to you and how the decisions that were being taken in Wales have impacted them and their loved ones directly. We would be grateful if you could confirm your availability for the same.

The pandemic has had an impact on each and every person in Wales in one way or another, but the families who form the Group instructing me have arguably been affected to the highest and most severe degree having lost their loved ones.

You will understand that the families have significant questions over the decisions that have been made in Wales during the pandemic and they feel very strongly that the only way to get proper answers to those questions is through a Wales Specific Statutory Inquiry with the bereaved families at the heart of that Inquiry.

As you and your Ministers have clearly pointed out throughout the pandemic, decisions in relation to the rules surrounding Covid-19 in Wales are made in Wales and you and your Government have been keen to highlight the often-significant differences of those rules between England and Wales. Those decisions taken in Wales, which have had an impact on the people of Wales should be scrutinised in Wales.

The Group are keen to ensure that lessons are learned in Wales over the handling of the pandemic as soon as possible. Further, the lack of commitment to a firm timetable by the UK Government for the suggested ‘4-nations’ Inquiry only strengthens their view that a Wales

Specific Statutory Inquiry must be convened as a matter of urgency to achieve the level of transparency, scrutiny and accountability required to enable lessons to be learned in Wales.

We are aware that your current position is that a Wales Specific Inquiry is not necessary but the Group implore you to reconsider that position and confirm that you will call an urgent Wales Specific Statutory Inquiry and follow the decision announced by the Scottish Government on 24 August 2021.

The Scottish Government have already committed to look at all matters related to the handling of the pandemic that are within their devolved competence and that an Inquiry will begin in Scotland before the end of this year. Families in Wales deserve parity. It is critical that Wales has its own Statutory Inquiry so that it can achieve greater scrutiny, transparency, accountability and ensure that lessons are learned.

We have copied this correspondence to the current Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan MS, and invite her to attend the arranged meeting or to hold a separate meeting with the Group’s representatives.

We would be grateful if this correspondence could receive your urgent attention.

 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Harding Evans LLP

On behalf of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru Group

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