On the 21st July 2021 Baroness Hallett set out the timetable for the initial work to be undertaken by the Inquiry. Her statement detailed what would be contained in Modules 1, 2 and 3. Baroness Hallett also gave a timeframe for hearings in respect of Module 1.
The Opening Statement also set out the criteria for applications for ‘core participant’ status in respect of Module 1. So, what does Module 1 contain and if who is eligible to apply for core participant status?
Provisional outline of scope of Module 1
It is intended that the Module will examine ‘the resilience and preparedness of the United Kingdom. Was the risk of a corona virus pandemic properly identified and planned for? Was the UK ready for such an eventuality?’
The Module will look at the following:-
- Basic characteristics and epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 and Covid 19
- Government structures and specialist bodies concerned with risk management and civil emergency planning
- The planning for a pandemic, to include forecasting, resources and learning from past simulation exercises
- Public health services, including the structure of public health bodies, their development over time and readiness and preparation in practice, public health capacity resources and funding, impact of the departure from the EU and communication between relevant bodies
- Economic planning by relevant Government bodies
- Planning for future pandemics, including the state of international preparedness, risk of new variants of Covid 19, other viruses of concern
What is a ‘core participant’?
Core participant status might be granted to an individual or a group of individuals or entity under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006.
Designated core participants will be provided with disclosure of elements relevant to the particular subject matter of inquiry. They will have the right to make opening and closing statements. They will have the right to suggest lines of questioning to be pursued by counsel and they may apply to the Inquiry to ask questions of witnesses. Those who plan to share their experiences through the listening exercise need not be designated as core participants.
Applications for core participant status
Applications will be determined by the Chair.
In determining applications the Chair must consider whether:-
- The person played a direct or significant role in relation to the matters to which the Inquiry relates
- The person has a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the Inquiry relates
- The person may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the Inquiry proceedings or report or any interim report
Timescales for application
The Inquiry will invite applications for designation in relation to specific modules or parts of modules. Applications for core participant status will be sought on a module by module basis with timescales published on the Inquiry website. The deadline for applications in respect of Module 1 is 16th August 2022.
It is open to the Chair to invite individuals or institutions to become core participants.
If applicants submit applications outside the Inquiry timelines then such applications will not be considered unless an acceptable explanation is given.
The subject of legal representation is a separate matter. For more information on the procedure see this article.
If you feel that you wish to make an application for core participant status at the Covid 19 Inquiry Olliers’ team of experts look forward to hearing from you.
Olliers has extensive experience of public inquiries and if you or someone you know would like to be considered as a core participant the Covid Inquiry team at Olliers will happily assist. We can also assist with applications in respect of legal representation at public expense.