The UK Covid-19 Inquiry’s first preliminary hearing for Module 1 began on 4 October 2022. This was the first public hearing held by the Inquiry. The Chair, Baroness Hallet held a minute’s silence for the loss and hardship experienced by those affected.
The agenda for the preliminary hearing commenced with introductory remarks made by Baroness Hallet.
Counsel to the Inquiry then provided an update regarding the following:
- The commencement of the Inquiry
- The designation of core participants
- The rule 9 Request
- The disclosure to core participants
- The instruction of expert witnesses
- The listening exercise
- The details of the future hearing dates
Submissions were then made by the Core Participants.
Core Participants have now been confirmed and can be found on the Covid 19 Website.
A Core Participant is an individual or organisation with a specific interest in the work conducted by the Inquiry. Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 grants Core Participant Status
They will have a formal role defined by legislation and will have special rights. They will receive disclosure of documentation and will be represented and make legal submissions. However, you do not need to be a Core Participant to provide evidence to the Inquiry.
Core Participants will have the following rights:
a. be provided with electronic disclosure of evidence relevant to the particular subject matter of the Inquiry in respect of which they are so designated, subject to any restrictions made under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005;
b. have the right to make opening and closing statements at any hearing;
c. have the right to suggest lines of questioning to be pursued by Counsel;
d. have the right to apply to the Inquiry to ask questions of witnesses during a hearing.
Applying for Core Participant Status
The Chair determines applications received by the Inquiry for Core Participant status.
In excess of 70 Core Participant applications were made. Some of those granted Core Participant Status at the first preliminary hearing include:
- NHS England
- Associate Director of Public Health
- NHS National Services Scotland
- Chancellor Duchy of Lancaster
- Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Government Office for Science
- HM Treasury
- Imperial College
- National Police Chief’s Council
Individuals and organisations can apply for Core Participant Status on either a module-by-module basis or for the duration of the enquiry.
The use of modules ensures that all the issues are investigated in depth. The Inquiry has announced the modules and topics that they will cover. It will further announce more modules in the upcoming months.
Individuals and organisations will have more opportunities to apply for Core Participant status as each module is opened.
The Inquiry is due to take evidence for Module 1 in Spring 2022.
A preliminary hearing for Module 2 is due to take place in late Autumn. Module 2 will cover “the UK’s core political and administrative decision-making in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic between early January 2020 until February 2022, when the remaining Covid restrictions were lifted”.
Written by James Claughton
Our team is available to provide advice and representation to individuals who may be core participants or witnesses to the Covid-19 Inquiry. We can also help if you have received a Rule 9 or Rule 13 letter from the Inquiry.
If you have been contacted directly by the Inquiry, or you want advice about being made a core participant (giving you the right to ask questions through your legal team), please contact our team.