Vallance Slams PM’s ‘Erratic’ Covid Response in Inquiry Submission


In entries to the Covid inquiry, Sir Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser for the government, voiced stark criticisms of the erratic approach from Boris Johnson during the pandemic. Describing it as “impossible flip-flopping” and “bipolar decision-making,” his daily reports reveal a scene of “chaos as usual” at Downing Street, particularly regarding social-distancing measures.

The inquiry’s second stage promises to dissect and scrutinize the political decisions made throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The government’s steadfast defense has been that their decisions were driven by a need to protect citizen lives.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to present his testimony in person, alongside other ministers, advisors, civil servants, and health officials, further along the timeline of the inquiry.

From 2018 to 2023, Sir Vallance served in the capacity of the government’s chief scientific adviser. He was commonly seen addressing the nation during Covid news briefs. His diary entries from the period, revealing internal turmoils, were shared by the inquiry’s lead counsel, Hugo Keith KC.

The notes recount instances of ineffective meetings, lack of comprehension of scientific advice, and the uncomfortable sensation of scientists being used to deflect responsibility from ministers. The diary logs illustrate an ongoing lack of clarity and consistency among government officials even when public health was at stake.

From the COVID support groups, reports emerged of the Prime Minister using dismissive language to refer to the disease in late 2020. His alleged comments sparked controversy amidst allegations that the severity of the disease was not being appropriately acknowledged.

In another statement by the inquiry’s counsel, the working environment within Downing Street was depicted as tense. Messages exchanged over WhatsApp suggest disputes and infighting. The former health secretary, Matt Hancock, was often the target of criticism, with repeated references to Johnson’s dwindling confidence in his role.

According to Keith, WhatsApp messages provided by over 250 groups, along with several documented personal conversations, testify to the discord within governmental operations.

As for the current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak assures his cooperation with the inquiry amid allegations that he was unable to provide certain messages after changing his phone several times. However, certain messages sent before June 2020 could reportedly not be accessed due to technical issues, leading to skepticism from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group.

Mr. Keith reassured the hearing, however, stating that despite some missing correspondences, they still have a clear overall picture of what transpired during this critical period. It remains of primary importance that any dark corners are brought to light, ensuring no aspect of governmental operations during the pandemic remains hidden or unexamined.