Covid bereaved group welcome UK-wide inquiry

By Jon Davies  
Thursday 30th December 2021 5:00 pm
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The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group are now calling for First Minister Mark Drakeford to call an independent Wales Covid inquiry ()

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A group set up by bereaved families calling for an independent Welsh Covid-19 Inquiry have welcomed the appointment of a chair for a UK Covid Inquiry as they continue their efforts to set up an independent Wales inquiry.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group was set up for families bereaved by decisions taken by the Welsh government before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group want an independent inquiry and review into whether deaths in Wales could have been prevented.

The group was set up three months ago by members of the public who lost loved ones during the pandemic in Wales.

Last week UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced former High Court judge Baroness Hallett is to chair the inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, with the inquiry due to start next Spring.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group have welcomed the appointment and are pleased that a decision has been made and a date set to start the UK inquiry, and would now like the same progress to be seen in Wales.

In a statement, the group said: “In Wales, despite meeting with the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru twice, First Minister Mark Drakeford still refuses to name an inquiry in Wales to cover devolved matters. However, he has committed to continuing to work with them.

“A further debate was held at the Senedd on December 15 2021 where the vote was tied at 28-28 where the Llywedd (Chair) was obliged to vote against the measure with her casting vote.

‘‘This is a significant improvement and the Wales branch continues to apply pressure.”

The group are also urging members of the public to support their petition calling for the Welsh Government to hold a public inquiry into decisions taken by them before and during the pandemic, with the petition having 1,592 signatures currently.

Over the last few weeks the Chronicle has reported on the personal experiences of several of the group’s members including Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees whose father Ian Marsh-Rees sadly died last October of Covid pneumonia after being admitted to hospital for a gall bladder infection. Last week we also told the story of another member of the group, Sam Smith-Higgins after her father Phil Smith passed away in January this year having contracted Coronavirus following a stay in hospital for water-reduction treatment having been receiving radiotherapy for prostate cancer. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have also added their voice to those supporting an independent Welsh Covid-19 inquiry following the decision by Party Leader Jane Dodds to back a motion tabled calling for an independent Welsh Covid-19 inquiry.

Jane Dodds had previously supported the Welsh Government’s rationale for holding a UK inquiry, being assured that it will thoroughly consider the context in Wales, but has now stated she no longer has faith in the UK Government to give the Senedd and Wales full consideration in the report.

Jane Dodds said: “At the beginning of this Senedd term, I voted with the government having being persuaded by the First Minister that a UK inquiry would adequately and thoroughly consider the context in Wales.

“However, having met with the Bereaved Families for Justice group over the summer I have been moved by their testimonies which explained why a Wales-specific inquiry was so important to them, and believe that it is important that the voices of those families here in Wales are given prominence in the process.

“The purpose of an independent Wales Inquiry is not to apportion blame, but to learn lessons for the future.” Anyone who wishes to sign the petition calling for an independent Covid-19 Inquiry in Wales please visit https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/244942

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