The retired Court of Appeal judge and crossbench peer acted as coroner for the inquest into deaths of the 52 victims of 7/7
Boris Johnson has named Baroness Hallett as chair of the public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.
The announcement has been welcomed by families as “a positive step” after more than 1,200 signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to announce the key figure before parliament’s Christmas recess begins on Thursday.
Baroness Hallett is a retired Court of Appeal judge and crossbench peer who is widely respected in the legal profession, having acted as coroner in the inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims of the 7/7 London bombings.
She is currently acting as coroner in the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who died in July 2018 following exposure to the nerve agent Novichok.
The Covid inquiry is expected to begin in spring but with the arrival of the Omicron virus many fear it will be delayed.
Covid-19 Families for Justice, which represents more than 4,000 families who lost loved ones to coronavirus, wants Baroness Hallett to commit to a “rapid review phase” as part of the inquiry, so the Government can learn lessons from 2020.
Matt Fowler, co-founder, whose father Ian died in 2020, said “The inquiry could and should be an historic and positive process from which the terrible suffering and loss of past 18 months are learned from, to ensure these tragedies are not repeated in the future. Today is finally a positive step in making that happen.
Daily Mirror/Ian Vogler)
“Everyone agrees that the focus of the inquiry must be on saving lives in the future, and that means that those who have been most affected, including bereaved families, must be at its heart. We must now be fully consulted on the Terms of Reference, and given core participant status, so that our stories and loss are learned from to protect the lives of others.
‘Whilst this news is very welcome, unfortunately it comes far too late. We’ve been calling for an inquiry since the end of the first wave, and we will never know how many lives could have been saved had the Government had a rapid review phase in Summer 2020. With the Omicron variant upon us, the inquiry really cannot come soon enough.
“This is a one off, historic opportunity to learn lessons to protect lives across the country. We cannot afford to get it wrong and we look forward to working closely with Baroness Hallett to make it a success.”
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