Families will hold a private meeting with the PM in Downing Street and ask him to start the public inquiry now
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Boris Johnson is to finally meet families who lost loved ones to coronavirus – more than a year after pledging to do so.
The Prime Minister will hold a private meeting with Covid-19 Families for Justice at Downing Street on Tuesday afternoon.
It comes ahead of the public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, which is due to start in spring.
The campaign group, which represents some 4,000 families, said its members will share how their loved one caught the virus and died.
Families have asked for the meeting to take place outdoors with social distancing.
It will come 398 days after the PM said he would “of course” meet people bereaved by the pandemic.
Group co-founder Jo Goodman – whose father Stuart, 72, died – said he will be pressing the Government to agree for the public inquiry to have a rapid review phase.
An independent chair of the inquiry is yet to be appointed but families have been calling for ministers to consult with them.
He said: “It has been over a year since the Prime Minister first said he would meet us, and in that time over 100,000 people across the country have lost their lives with Covid-19.
“One of the hardest parts of the pandemic for us has been seeing new families join each week with the same pain and grief that we’ve experienced and distressingly similar stories to our own.
“We first called for a rapid review last summer so that lessons could be learnt from the deaths of our loved ones to protect others, and we can’t help but feel that if we’d been listened to then, other lives might have been spared.
“We hope that the Prime Minister will listen to us tomorrow, and start the process to begin the inquiry immediately, whilst ensuring that the perspective of bereaved families is at its heart.
“Most of all, we hope that by sharing our stories, we can help to protect other families from the suffering and tragedy that we’ve been through.”
More than 136,000 people have lost their lives since the start of the pandemic.
Boris Johnson’s late lockdown measures and chaotic handling of Test and Trace have come in for sharp criticism.