Boris Johnson has announced that the Government will set up an independent statutory inquiry in Spring 2022 to examine the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the Commons, the PM confirmed today that the public inquiry established by the Government will have full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005, such as the ability to demand the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath.
While the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, challenged the PM asking why the inquiry could not be done earlier, Johnson replied that it would be “wrong” to put pressure on scientific advisors in winter, when Covid-19 cases are most likely to surge again.
Mr Johnson added that the inquiry must be able to examine the tragic events “in the cold light of day” and identify the key issues that will better prepare the UK to face a potential future pandemic.
Jo Goodman, the co-founder of the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, has commented that the announcement of a statutory inquiry is a “huge relief” but ‘there are still further steps needed to ensure we all get the answers we need as a country’ and spring 2022 is ‘simply too late to begin’.
More than 127,600 people are recorded to have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, although separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show the disease appeared on the death certificates of around 152,000.
UK economy rebounds after contraction
After the contraction that hit the British economy in the first months of 2021, official figures showed that the gross domestic product (GDP) has been slowly picking up since March with a growth rate of 2.1%.
According to the ONS, this performance is the fastest increment in the UK economy since August 2020, exceeding the country’s expectations.
While Chancellor Rishi Sunak claims that the “economic growth in March is a promising sign of things to come”’, the economist, Samuel Tombs ,of Pantheon Macroeconomics stated that the British economy recovery is still the slowest of the Group of Seven (G7) rich countries.
Despite this resilient growth, overall the economy is still 8.7% smaller than it was before the pandemic.
Court judgement shows PM’s unpaid debt
A county court judgment has been registered against Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street for an unpaid debt of £535.
The court order, which was made on the 26th October 2020, has been found by searching the county court database and doesn’t include the name of the creditor, nor the type of the debt.
The judgment was issued less than a fortnight after a Conservative donor told the party he was donating £58,000 to the party in relation to refurbishments at Mr Johnson’s Downing Street flat.
Mr Johnson has denied any wrongdoing and insisted he personally paid for the luxurious renovations but has declined to say whether he received an initial loan.
The news will give an additional push to the investigation on how Johnson was able to afford to pay for the refurbishment of his flat.
Downing Street has been contacted for comment.
England vaccines to be offered to 38 and 39 years olds
In England, 38 and 39 year olds are next in line to be offered their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Appointments will be available from Thursday for those in this age group.
This is expected to be extended to all over 35’s in the following week.
So far in the UK over 35,587,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Nine-year-old boy killed by lightning named
A nine-year-old boy who died after apparently being struck by lightning during a football coaching session on Tuesday has been named by the Blackpool Gazette as Jordan Banks.
Jordan was playing in the field when lightning struck him.
Police officers were called to fields near School Road after reports a child had been injured.
The boy was taken to hospital but died a short time later.
Inquiries to investigate the death of the young boy are still ongoing.