In March 2020, in response to the Covid 19 pandemic we saw a national lockdown. Within a relatively short space of time there were demands for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. It was not until June 2020 that the Terms of Reference for the Covid 19 Inquiry were agreed.
In the timeline below (which is regularly updated) we chart the timeline which has led to the final terms of reference and the commencement of work under the inquiry.
17th November 2020
On 17th November 2020, the Government made it clear that a public inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic would take place.
Initial, informal announcement May 2021
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that government was “fully committed to learning the lessons at every stage” of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said to MPs that an independent inquiry would take place Spring 2022. Labour leader, Keir Starmer had questioned why the inquiry could not start earlier. However, initial focus was on dealing with the pandemic. Subsequent speculation related as to what the inquiry would look at and when. Click here to read more.
15th December 2021 – appointment of Baroness Hallett
On 15th December 2021, Boris Johnson appointed the Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE as Chair to the public inquiry into the pandemic. Boris Johnson said the following regarding the appointment “She brings a wealth of experience to the role and I know shares my determination that the inquiry examines in a forensic and thorough way the government’s response to the pandemic.”
Baroness Hallett said the following “I want to assure the British public that, once the terms of reference are finalized, I shall do my utmost to ensure the Inquiry answers as many questions as possible about the UK’s response to the pandemic so that we can all learn lessons for the future.”
20th January 2022
Letter to Darren Tierney, Director General, Propriety & Ethics at the Cabinet Office
The Director of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry setup team, Ben Connah (former Ministry of Justice and Department for Education senior civil) wrote to the Director General, Propriety and Ethics at the Cabinet Office, Darren Tierney to request that any government records of potential relevance to the inquiry be retained.
8th February 2022
Letter from the Director General, Propriety & Ethics at the Cabinet Office to the Director of the Covid-19 UK Inquiry set up team
Darren Tierney, the Director General, Propriety and Ethics at the Cabinet Office responded regarding measures being taken to ensure governments records relevant to the inquiry be retained. He confirmed that record management processes are in place across government
11th March 2022
Open letter to the Public from the Chair of the Inquiry
The Chair wrote to the public detailing plans to take the public consultation forward.
Baroness Hallett detailed how she hopes people throughout the UK will engage with the online consultation to understand the experiences of those most affected. The Chair further detailed how she along with the Inquiry would be visiting towns and cities across the UK to obtain a wide range of views from across society.
11th March 2022
Draft Terms of Reference for Consultation
The Prime Minster published the draft Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, which has now been replaced by the Final Terms of Reference, detailed below. Link to olliers article
21st March 2022
UK Covid-19 Inquiry Costs Protocol This details the legal representation at public expense and the assessment of legal expenses payable under it. Link to olliers article
12th May 2022: Terms of Reference consultation summary report – including draft terms of reference
Transcripts made available from consultation meetings which took place in March and April 2022 with representatives from various sectors including charities, unions, faith groups, education and healthcare. This was to enable such representatives to have an input on how the inquiry should be conducted
12th May 2022
Analysis of consultation responses from Alma Economics Report Independent analysis by Alma Economics on the Terms of Reference consultation – report provides details a comprehensive overview of the significant views emanating from responses.
12th May 2022
Letter from the Chair of the Inquiry to the Prime Minister detailing recommended changes to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. The changes were amended based on the Inquiry’s analysis of the responses garnered from the consultation.
Baroness Hallett detailed that “Over 20,000 individuals and organisations responded to the consultation. During the four-week consultation, I held meetings with over 150 bereaved families and organisations representing different sectors in cities across the UK.”
20th June 2022
The Inquiry Chair, Baroness Heather Hallett, appointed 49 junior Counsel to join its legal team for the Covid-19 Inquiry, they will support Hugo Keith QC, Lead Counsel to the Inquiry, Martin Smith, Solicitor to the Inquiry, and 11 QC’s.
28th June 2022
The Prime Minister confirmed the Terms of Reference for the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
Boris Johnson accepted all of the proposals the Chair had made subject to a small number of clarificatory changes. Boris Johnson confirmed that the inquiry’s “setting up date” was the date of his letter, 28th June 2022. Click here to read more.
21st July 2022
Baroness Hallett makes UK Covid Inquiry Opening Statement. In the statement Baroness Hallett outlines the initial timetable for the Inquiry including modules 1 which will open on the 21st July 2022 and module 2. Baroness Hallett outlines the procedures for deadlines for core participant applications in respect of module 1. Baroness Hallett also sets out the contents of module 3. The Inquiry base for public hearings will be in London.
Hearings are expected to take place next year. In her letter Baroness Hallett, dated 11 March 2022, said the following “we shall gather evidence throughout the year and I hope to begin public hearings in 2023.”
As part of the process of obtaining evidence, Baroness Hallett, referred to a ‘Listening Project’, expected to be conducted this summer. It is expected be focused on obtaining information wide ranging groups affected by the pandemic
Olliers Public Inquiry Team
Olliers has many years of experience of representing individuals appearing as witnesses or core participants in public inquiries.
We advise and represent throughout all stages of the process.