Boris Johnson was confused by the pandemic, says Patrick Vallance
Professor Sir Chris Whitty comments on the Covid inquiry in a much-anticipated evidence session today.
England’s chief medical officer has been at the heart of decision-making during the pandemic, working closely with then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others at the top of the government.
During yesterday’s meeting it emerged that Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s former scientific adviser, privately described Sir Chris as a lockdown “delayer” as “palpable tensions” emerged between the pair over policy.
Sir Patrick made an entry in his own diary in February 2021 in which Sir Chris had spoken to him about the investigation they knew was coming and whether the March 2020 lockdown had been imposed too late.
“He was, of course, a delayer,” wrote Sir Patrick.
It was also claimed during Monday’s meeting that Rishi Sunak believes the government should simply “let people die” during the coronavirus pandemic, making it one of the most explosive claims heard at the inquiry so far.
When Sir Patrick gave evidence to the UK’s Covid-19 inquiry, he said he had noted what former chief adviser Dominic Cummings had told him This is what Mr Sunak, the then Chancellor, said during a meeting in October 2020.
Sir Chris Whitty: I wasn’t a procrastinator
Sir Chris Whitty has rejected a description of him as a “delayer” in the early stages of the pandemic, saying he warned of “very serious” consequences if measures were not taken to tackle Covid. Archie Mitchell Reports.
The chief medical officer told the inquiry that although he had not pushed back on the lockdowns, he believed “the disadvantages of these measures should be made transparent”.
Sir Chris said he had “rejected and will continue to reject” proposals and warned ministers against overreacting to the pandemic.
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 10:50 am
Whitty: The tension between me and Vallance was overstated
Sir Chris Whitty said Sir Jeremy Farrar “had a book to sell” and dismissed claims of a rift between him and Sir Patrick Vallance. Archie Mitchell Reports.
The chief medical officer told the Covid inquiry that Sir Jeremy’s claims that there was “friction” between him and former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick “made it more exciting”.
“In my opinion the differences were extremely small,” said Sir Chris.
Sir Jeremy’s book, Spike: The virus vs. the peopledescribed tensions between advisers over when lockdown restrictions should be introduced in 2020.
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 10:39 am
Professor Sir Chris Whitty gives evidence
Professor Sir Chris Whitty is now providing evidence to the inquiry.
We will keep you updated throughout the session.
You can also watch it live on our YouTube channel:
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 10:22 am
ICYMI: Boris Johnson has been ‘overwhelmed’ by science during the pandemic, reveals Patrick Vallance
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 09:36
Whitty comes to check up
Professor Sir Chris Whitty arrived this morning to appear before the Commission of Inquiry.
England’s chief medical officer was seen entering Dorland House a little earlier, dressed in a dark suit.
He will take the stand at 10 a.m.
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 09:05
Full report: Rishi Sunak said the government should ‘let people die’, says bombshell claim at Covid inquiry
As we previously reported, Rishi Sunak has been accused of saying the government should “let people die” during the Covid pandemic.
The allegation by former chief of staff Dominic Cummings was documented in Sir Patrick Vallance’s diary. The former chief scientific adviser made the note after a “shambolic” meeting about Covid restrictions in October 2020.
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 08:53
Sir Patrick faced threats to his family and considered resigning
In a 241-page witness statement to the inquiry released on Monday, Sir Patrick revealed he had received threats and abuse during the pandemic.
The government’s former scientific adviser told the inquiry that he was considering resigning and that he was “certainly finding the pressure” on himself and his family “difficult”.
“Like many others, I was abused and threatened and worried about the well-being and safety of my family,” he said. “Sometimes these factors made me question whether I should continue.
“I also found it very difficult to break the lockdown rules and thought about what I should do in response but decided that I would help the most if I continued with my job.”
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 08:38
Minister dodges questions about Sunak’s alleged ‘let people die’ comment
A government minister dodged questions about Rishi Sunak’s alleged “let people die” comment during the Covid pandemic.
Laura Trott, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was asked about the allegation made by Dominic Cummings and revealed in yesterday’s evidence in an interview with Sky News this morning
Ms Trott said she was a backbencher at the time of the alleged remark, adding: “What I saw during Covid was a government trying to save both lives and livelihoods.”
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 8:11 am
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Covid inquiry.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, will give evidence today in a highly anticipated appearance.
He will be on site from 10am when we have live updates.
Until then, we bring you all the highlights from yesterday’s meeting with Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s former science adviser.
Matt MathersNovember 21, 2023 7:41 am
Caroline Lucas claims Rishi Sunak was responsible for the deaths
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is responsible for excess deaths during the pandemic, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has said.
“Confirmed by Sir Patrick Vallance at the Covid Inquiry today – Rishi Sunak’s grossly irresponsible Eat Out To Help Out scheme has triggered a second wave of Covid. He is responsible for the damage caused. He must be held accountable,” Ms. Lucas wrote on X.
Alexander ButlerNovember 21, 2023 5:30 am