NEWS: Erdington MP backs Covid-19 public inquiry and calls for Matt Hancock to “honour that commitment” and meet with grieving families

Words by Adam Smith

Jack Dromey MP is backing a Castle Vale woman’s demand for a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic – after she lost her father and sister to the virus within a week.

Jane Roche is part of the Bereaved Families for Justice campaign and despite Matt Hancock promising to meet her and other Erdington families last December they have yet to see the Health Secretary.

Government this week ruled out holding a public inquiry in the foreseeable future, despite health experts estimating thousands of lives would have been saved if ministers had heeded warnings last year and implemented the first lockdown earlier.

Mr Dromey raised the complaints of the Bereaved Families for Justice campaign in Parliament and has accused Matt Hancock of avoiding meeting Covid-19 victims’ relatives.

Mr Dromey told Erdington Local: “I know many Erdington families have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and they are desperate for answers as to whether their loved one’s death was preventable.

“When you hear a story like Jane’s, or any of the other members of the campaign, and you hear the pain they have suffered, you want to help them find at least some degree of closure – and that can’t be done until the questions they have are answered.”

He added: “I asked Matt Hancock to meet with families from the West Midlands who have lost loved ones, which he agreed to in Parliament. He must honour that commitment and set a date.

“A public inquiry is so important for another reason, one that I know is so important to the families, to make sure mistakes are never repeated.”

Pressure mounts on the Boris Johnson this week, as leaks about his vocabulary and conduct around the coronavirus crisis continue to make national headlines. Various reports from Whitehall officials have cited the PM as saying he would rather see “bodies pile high” than put England into another lockdown.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal 348 people in Kingstanding, Erdington, and Castle Vale died due to Covid-19 between March 2020 and March 2021.

Jane Roche said: “We are absolutely determined to make sure this public inquiry goes ahead, and it needs to happen as soon as possible. Thousands of grieving families need answers to why we lost our loved ones the way we did.

“Boris Johnson is dragging his heels, but he needs to set a date for the inquiry, it’s the least he can do. He can’t ignore us forever.”

Responding to calls for a public inquiry a Government spokesman said: “An inquiry now is not appropriate.

“The very people who would need to give evidence to an inquiry are working round the clock. It is not anticipated that the government’s workload will ease in the coming months.”

For more on Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice visit: www.covidfamiliesforjustice.org

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines direct from the NHS visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination

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