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Covid inquiry live: Michael Gove apologises for government mistakes and says lockdown came ‘too late’

Michael Gove has apologised to victims and bereaved families for the government’s handling of the pandemic as he listed what he believed were the failings, including locking down too late.

Mr Gove, who is today giving evidence at the Covid-19 Inquiry, said the country was too slow to introduce a lockdown, accepting he should have been more “forthright” in pushing for the move.

He also said that the tier system was “inherently flawed”, there should have been more focus on the impact on children and there were errors with the procurement of personal protective equipment.

At the beginning of the session, Mr Gove, who was Cabinet Office minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the pandemic began in 2020, said: “If I may… apologise to the victims who endured such pain, the families who endured so much loss as a result of the mistakes that were made by Government in response to the pandemic.”

Yet despite the acceptance of mistakes in the handling of the situation, Mr Gove refused to criticise ex-colleagues on the cabinet. He said he had a “high opinion” of former health secretary Matt Hancock and defended Boris Johnson’s “gladiatorial” decision-making.

Key Points

  • ‘I want to take this opportunity to apologise to the victims'

  • ‘I should definitely have been more forthright'

  • We were too slow to lock down

  • ‘Government f***ing up’, Gove tells Dominic Cummings

‘We were too slow to lock down in March'

11:40 , Archie Mitchell

Ministers should have implemented the first national lockdown sooner, and taken stricter measures in autumn before the second national lockdown, Michael Gove has said.

Listing what he saw to be failures, Mr Gove told the Covid inquiry: “I believe that we were too slow to lock down initially, in March.

“I believe that we should have taken stricter measures before we eventually decided to do so late in October.”

The then Cabinet Office minister said the government’s approach to testing was “not as rigorously thought through as it might have been”.

And he said: “I am also concerned that we did not pay enough attention to the impact, particularly on children and vulnerable children. of some of the measures that we took.”

Gove suggests Covid was ‘man-made’ - Part two

16:34 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Michael Gove said it is “important to recognise that the virus presented a series of new challenges that required ... the science to adjust”.

Covid-19’s origins are still being examined nearly four years after the first cases emerged in Wuhan in China.

Some believe the virus accidentally leaked from a laboratory in the city which was looking into similar viruses.

But many scientists say the weight of evidence suggests a natural origin - the virus spreading from animals to humans via Wuhan’s wet food markets - is the most likely scenario.

Downing Street said the Government’s position is for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to investigate the genesis of the virus.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “The Government’s view is that the WHO needs to continue to examine all possibilities.

“We think there is still work to be done. But it is for the WHO to investigate.”

Gove suggests Covid was ‘man-made’

16:18 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Michael Gove was slapped down at the official inquiry into the pandemic when he suggested there is a “significant body of judgment” that believes Covid-19 was “man-made”.

The Levelling Up Secretary went further than any Cabinet minister so far in questioning the virus’s origins - still a matter of intense scientific debate - as he explained the challenges faced by the Government as the crisis unfolded in 2020.

Asked about shortcomings in preparedness for a new virus, the senior Tory said: “There is a significant body of judgment that believes that the virus itself was man-made, and that presents challenges as well.”

He was quickly cut off by Hugo Keith KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, who said the “divisive” issue is not part of the inquiry’s terms of reference.

“We’re not going to go there,” he said.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Scots thought UK govt was wrong, but Scottish govt was right, inquiry hears

15:47 , Alex Ross

Just 27 per cent of people in Scotland thought the UK government was putting in place the right Covid measures.

That is compared with 70 per cent of Scots who thought the government in Holyrood was taking the right decisions.

A briefing document drawn up by Michael Gove’s team during the pandemic, shown to the inquiry, showed an example of “wider challenges in microcosm”.

A briefing document drawn up by Michael Gove’s team during the pandemic (Covid Inquiry)
A briefing document drawn up by Michael Gove’s team during the pandemic (Covid Inquiry)

Gove went behind backs to reach PM

15:29 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove has defended bypassing Government structures in a bid to persuade Boris Johnson to impose pandemic restrictions quicker.

He contacted Mr Johnson directly via his personal email in January 2021 to argue that there was “no alternative but to adopt a strategy of maximum suppression”.

When asked why he had chosen not to go through established channels, Mr Gove said: “I wanted to make sure that it got to the prime minister direct and without any interference.

“I wanted to make sure that he saw my own unvarnished opinion, that it was laid out in black and white.”

When pressed further on why he had chosen this approach, Mr Gove said: “You asked me to reflect earlier if I hadn’t been vigorous enough in stating my view.

“At some point in the pandemic, I suspect I wasn’t and on other occasions I felt it was necessary to adopt not just a belt and braces approach, but by an any means necessary approach in order to make clear what I felt.”

Quick break

15:08 , Alex Ross

Probing of Mr Gove by the Inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC has now finished, and following a short break, Peter Wilcock KC, from Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is now putting forward questions.

Michael Gove said ministers had been ‘too lenient and too late’ with restrictions

14:53 , Archie Mitchell

Ahead of the second national lockdown, Michael Gove said ministers had been “too lenient and too late”, the Covid inquiry has heard.

The former chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said: “We cannot make the same mistakes again.”

The reflections were revealed in former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance’s diaries.

Asked about the reflections, Mr Gove told the Covid inquiry he was fearful the government was allowing “too much social mixing”.

The diary entry also revealed that Boris Johnson was “worrying about Christmas”, but that Sir Patrick had concluded it was already “too late”.

Andy Burnham ‘has a point’ about Manchester’s appalling treatment, Gove

14:52 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove has told the inquiry that Andy Burnham “has a point” about Greater Manchester having been treated appallingly during the pandemic.

The Greater Manchester mayor used his evidence session on Monday to slam the government’s London-centric approach to Covid decision-making and the imposition of restrictions on the region with little or no consultation.

“I think that the mayor of Manchester Greater Manchester has a point as indeed, others did,” Mr Gove said.

He said he had sympathy with Mr Bunrham’s position that stricter measures were imposed on Greater Manchester without being given the financial resources he believed were necessary.

‘Weakness’ of the tier system

14:51 , Alex Ross

You may remember the tier system being introduced by the English government in October 2020, with different restrictions placed on areas depending how high the risk was of the virus spreading.

Mr Gove has already said the system was flawed. Inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC went further to ask why a better assessment of the scheme was not done before it was rolled out.

Mr Gove replied: “I was sceptical and grew more sceptical about its efficacy and believed and I think I advocated for an approach which was more England-wide.

“In talking about the tiered approach we made the point that the dissolved administrations went their own way, understandably, but the history of the pandemic shows that what starts in Essex doesn’t stay in Essex and across the whole island of Great Britain you will find sooner or later that the virus will level up overall.

“It may well be that the approach of the Scottish government or the Welsh government might have been wiser than the approach of the English government, but ultimately sooner or later within an epidemiological area you will find, unless appropriate restrictions are in place, the virus will spread and that’s the weakness of the tier system.”

‘Just answer the question'

14:39 , Archie Mitchell

Inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett has been forced to come between Michael Gove and Hugo Keith KC yet again.

Inquiry counsel Mr Keith told Mr Gove to “just answer the question” after he asked about the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable.

A visibly frustrated Mr Keith said: “I am very sorry but in light of the time and dare I say your propensity to comment politically. Can I ask you please just to answer the question?”

“That is a question that requires extensive political commentary,” Mr Gove said.

Coming between the two ahead of another clash, Baroness Hallett said: “You’re not the first politician to make political commentary during the course of this inquiry.”

Tensions flare between Michael Gove and inquiry lead counsel Hugo Keith

14:28 , Alex Ross

Tensions are flaring between Michael Gove and the Covid inquiry’s lead counsel Hugo Keith KC.

The former chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has been told off several times now by Mr Keith, after more than three hours of often-tricky answers from Mr Gove.

Mr Keith snapped that he “did not want a lecture on the merits of the Barnett formula” that determines how much money the Treasury allocates to the UK’s devolved administrations.

Mr Gove had gone into detail on the formula in answer to a question about the Scottish government wanting more money.

Mr Gove then offered an anecdote about having bumped into Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford, before Mr Keith snapped: “Mr Gove, you know very well it’s not your place to give hearsay evidence and account from another witness.

“And we’re asking you about your views.”

Minutes earlier inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett had to break up a spat between the pair.

No criticism of cabinet colleagues... yet

14:14 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove has been giving evidence to the Covid-19 inquiry for more than three hours now, and although he accepted mistakes had been made, which he apologised for, he has so far not criticised his cabinet colleagues.

Earlier, he said he had a “high opinion” of former health secretary Matt Hancock, who faced repeated criticism from a number of witnesses before the inquiry. Various witnesses have expressed concern about his performance as health secretary.

He also defended Boris Johnson’s “gladiatorial” decision-making.

He said Mr Johnson should not be singled out for criticism over the delay in imposing restrictions, noting that ministers and officials who did not voice their belief in the need for earlier action also “deserve our share, retrospectively, of criticism”.

The defence of the two key figures in the cabinet have been made by Mr Gove despite him admitting the country was not well enough prepared for the pandemic. In a WhatsApp message to Dominic Cummings, he even said ‘we are f***ing up as a government’.

‘Strongly in favour of exempting hunting from Covid rules’

13:55 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove was “strongly in favour” of exempting hunting and shooting from rules around meeting outdoors in groups of more than six, WhatsApp messages show.

The former chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was shown messages from during the pandemic showing he supported exempting the activities “but in a way that does not appear on the face of the regulations”.

Replying to the suggestion from an official whose name was redacted, Mr Gove said: “Yes.”

“What I was anxious to do at every point was to ensure consistency and fair treatment for different types of activity,” Mr Gove told the inquiry.

‘Daft laddie' question

13:54 , Alex Ross

A WhatsApp message is shown to the inquiry on a “daft laddie” question sent to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, in which Mr Gove asks: “Is the PM’s day structured in the way your would want to enable all the decisions that need to be taken are taken in a timely way? Are the right people in the room in very meeting to drive progress? Are the right people excluded?”

The inquiry’s lead counsel Hugo Keith KC says the answers to the questions were “all no”. He then asks Mr Gove if he followed these up.

Mr Gove responds by calling the message a “gentle nudge” to a newly appointed civil servant on gaining the confidence of the prime minister, appearing to avoid the suggestion from Mr Keith KC that he was calling for changes in the structure.

WhatsApp message from Michael Gove to Simon Case (UK Covid Inquiry)
WhatsApp message from Michael Gove to Simon Case (UK Covid Inquiry)

We’re back underway

13:41 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove is being questioned over government decision-making before and at the start of the pandemic.

Pause for lunch

12:52 , Alex Ross

The Covid Inquiry has stopped for lunch, and will resume at 1.35pm.

The chair, Lady Hallett, said a short lunch of 50 minutes was required to get through the large amount of evidence in the afternoon.

'Tension between economy and public health was false narrative’

12:40 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has dismissed the idea that there was tension between the economy and public health.

The former Cabinet Office minister told the Covid inquiry that “obviously lockdown creates problems for the economy”. “But… if we had allowed the pandemic to develop, without takin the steps we did, the NHS would be overwhelmed and that would mean an impact on economic activity far greater than what we had to endure,” he added.

Mr Gove said: “When people talk about the trade-off between the economy and health, when you have the virus you need to respond in a way that protects both.”

‘I should definitely have been more forthright'

12:38 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove is asked why he did not push forward his belief for a lockdown measure to be imposed at a series of Cobra meetings, one of which he chaired, during the week of 16 March, 2020.

He tells the inquiry it is “in the nature of ministerial life” that as a chair of a meeting the consensus is sought, and you might have to put aside a “deeply felt position” to serve the government collectively.

Pushed again on this, Inquiry lead counsel Hugo Keith KC asks if he should have been more forthright on the course of action he believed the correct one to take; a lockdown for the country.

Mr Gove responds: “Generally people have always been unhappy when I’ve been more forthright in the past but on this occasion I should definitely have beem more forthright.”

“This was a matter of life and death,” says Mr Keith KC.

Mr Gove responds again: “Absolutely and this is why I think I should have made the decision to implement the national lockdown.”

Boris Johnson did not oscillate, he came reluctantly but firmly to conclusions - Gove

12:18 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has defended Boris Johnson after weeks of claims at the Covid inquiry that he was indecisive and would constantly “oscillate” when making key decisions.

The former Cabinet Office minister said: “I don’t think it was the case that he was oscillating.

“He was weighing things before coming reluctantly, but firmly, to a conclusion.”

‘I am sorry for swearing… this sort of thing happens’

12:13 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has apologised after the Covid inquiry revealed he had sent expletive-filled WhatsApp messages to Dominic Cummings during the pandemic.

The levelling up secretary, then running the Cabinet Office, said: “I apologise to you and to the inquiry and to the public, for expressing myself in the way that I did. I’m sure that you will understand that this sort of thing happens.”

‘I’m tempted to take my family to countryside and say ‘you’re on your own’'

12:08 , Alex Ross

Dominic Cummings considered chucking in the towel in the early days of the pandemic and heading for the countryside, WhatsApp messages shown to the Covid inquiry reveal.

The former top adviser to Boris Johnson said on March 11, 2020: “I’m tempted to take my family to the countryside and hold a press conference saying you’re on your own, the Cabinet Office and parliament have f****d us all.”

“People should be shot,” he added.

Michael Gove asked who he envisaged being first in line, before Mr Cummings replied: “Not for phones.”

‘We are f***ing up and will regret it for a long time’

12:05 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove sent a sweary WhatsApp message to Dominic Cummings saying the government was “f***ing up” and would “regret it for a long time.

The then Cabinet Office minister said: “I don’t often kick off. But we are f***ing up as a government and missing golden opportunities.

“I will carry on doing what I can but the whole situation is even worse than you think and action needs to be taken or we’ll regret it for a long time.”

Mr Cummings, then PM Boris Johnson’s top adviser, said the cabinet office is a “f***ing joke” and had lied about having a plan to deal with the pandemic.

WhatsApp exchange between Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove (Covid 19 Inquiry)
WhatsApp exchange between Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove (Covid 19 Inquiry)

Issues ‘not addressed'

11:59 , Alex Ross

The Inquiry is shown an email sent by Mr Gove to Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock on 10 March 2020, with a list of questions on dealing the the virus, asking about hosptial capacity, education, screening and public gatherings.

He tells them: “We must of course be guided by science, but that involves testing the propositions put forward and weighing up different choices.”

These questions appear to be raised because they had not been properly “ventilated in Cobra” and “addressed by the Government” says Hugo Keith Keith KC, counsel to the inquiry

Mr Gove responds by saying some of the issues were raised at the meeting, and that having had a chance to think about them, other questions “occur to me and need to be followed up”.

‘I changed my mind'

11:39 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove says he changed his mind on the need for action to restrict the spread of the virus, having initially shared Boris Johnson’s concerns about “overreacting” and the economic consequences.

His opinion was changed by information from friends outside government, he said.

Mr Gove added: “At the very end of February I was inclined to give substantial weight to the prime minister’s concerns.

“It was only in the succeeding days that I became more and more convinced actually that action was required.”

Mr Gove said the introduction of lockdowns in parts of Italy had influenced him, adding it was “also material that had been sent to me by friends outside Government that led me to believe action was needed”.

 (Reuters)
(Reuters)

Gove apologises for pandemic mistakes that caused ‘so much pain’

11:24 , Alex Ross

This morning’s inquiry started with an apology from Mr Gove over mistakes made by the government during its handling of the pandemic.

Watch the clip here:

Accused of a slow response

11:16 , Alex Ross

Inquiry lead counsel Hugo Keith KC suggests there was no debate on the control of infection before the virus reached the UK.

In response, Mr Gove says “I am sure” there was debate among members of The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and other advisory bodies, and that he was relying on the advice to government ministers.

“There were not many voices asking for the action we later embraced,” he said, taking about the period of February.

Michael Gove suggests Covid could have been man-made

11:01 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has told the Covid inquiry that the virus posed “a different set of challenges” to a flu pandemic the government had prepared for.

The former Cabinet Office minister said the government was “not as well prepared as we should have been”.

He went on to say “this is probably going outside the remit of the inquiry”, but said: “There is a significant body of judgment that believes the virus itself was manmade.”

Inquiry lead counsel Hugo Keith KC said it was a “very divisive issue” and “we’re not going to go there”.

I have a high opinion of Matt Hancock, Michael Gove

11:00 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has praised Matt Hancock’s abilities, bucking a trend of witnesses at the Covid inquiry dumping on the former health secretary.

After a slew of allegations that Mr Hancock was serially dishonest, Mr Gove said “I know not everyone testifying toward this inquiry has”.

But he said: “I have a high opinion of Matt Hancock as a minister”.

The former minister for the Cabinet Office said “too much was asked” of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and other government departments should have been asked to help.

In early February, were you aware of concerns over preparation for the virus, Mr Gove is asked

10:59 , Alex Ross

The Housing Secretary responds: “Only later in February that I began to feel a sense of concern about how well prepared as a country we were.

“Prior to that... the general concesus was that we were relatively well prepared as a country, those were the reassurances we were being given across Government, and I broadly took those on trust.

“I think there were some ways the Government, as a result of some exericses and steps we had taken beforehand, was in position to deal with aspects of the crisis, others areas where we were clearly weaker,

“But no I didn’t have the prescience to see in early February that we were not well prepared, I think it was only later in February and early in March that my concerns about our response mattered.”

There are areas where we could not be awarded high marks, Gove

10:47 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has praised the government’s preparation for Brexit and vaccine rollout, but said “there are other areas where it would be quite wrong to award ourselves high marks”.

The former minister for the Cabinet Office told the Covid inquiry there were “specific failings” during the pandemic.

He said: “Governments across the developed world were dealing with a novel virus and… scrambled to appreciate quite how devastating the impact of this virus would be on their healthcare systems, on their economies, and on vulnerable people within their societies.”

He added: “Of course, mistakes and errors were made by the UK and some of them were unique and specific to the UK government.

“But I also think that we need to remember that governments everywhere made errors.”

Gove defends his conduct

10:45 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove has defended his conduct and that of Cabinet Office staff during the early stages of the pandemic after apologising for mistakes.

He said: “I want to stress that I and those with whom I worked were also seeking at every point, in circumstances where every decision was difficult and every course was bad, to make decisions that we felt we could in order to try to deal with an unprecedented virus and a remarkable assault on the institutions of the country.”

Gove: Under Boris, there were strong personalities in No10

10:42 , Archie Mitchell

Michael Gove has said there were “strong personalities” in Boris Johnson’s Downing Street and “sometimes those personalities clash”.

Asked about WhatsApp messages from Simon Case describing running the government as “like taming wild animals”, Mr Gove said members of Mr Johnson’s top team were “being assertive” to deal with the challenge posed by Covid.

He told the inquiry into the pandemic: “Almost every number 10 operation has had, by its nature, strong personalities.

“Sometimes those personalities clash. Sometimes under tension, humans express themselves in ways which with the benefit of hindsight, they regret.”

‘I want to take this opportunity to apologise to the victims'

10:28 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove has apologised to victims and bereaved families, as he accepts mistakes were made.

The former minister for the cabinet office, who now serves as levelling up secretary, said: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise to the victims who endured so much pain, the families who endured so much loss as a result of the government’s decisions in response to the pandemic.

“As a minister responsible for the Cabinet Office, and who was also close to many of the decisions that were made, I must take my share of responsibility for that.”

He added: “Politicians are human beings, we’re fallible, we make mistakes and we make errors.”

Cabinet office ‘not configured appropriate’ for pandemic

10:14 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove served as Minister of the cabinet office between 13 February, 2020, and 15 September, 2021 - the role, he tells the hearing, was to improve co-ordinaton of Government policy.

He said: “I had observed before taking on this role and realised very quickly upon taking on this role that the way in which the cabinet office was configured was not, to my mind, appropriate for the type of pandemic that we faced, and indeed the type of crisis that requires an effective whole of Government response.”

Michael Gove has arrived

09:30 , Alex Ross

Michael Gove arrives ahead of his appearance at the Covid Inquiry.

The UK's Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be questioned at phase 2 of the Covid-19 Inquiry over decision-making in Downing Street during the pandemic.

We’re bring you live coverage here

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Government ‘made same mistake three times’

08:42 , Alex Ross

Ahead of Michael Gove giving evidence today, let’s jut look back at one of the big stories from the inqury last week.

Progressor Dame Angela McLean, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, said Boris Johnson’s government repeatedly made the same mistake of “watching and waiting” before taking action in the face of soaring infections during the pandemic.

Dame Angela criticised a “lack of appreciation that very quick decisions were needed” and said she believed this was the “most significant shortcoming” in decision-making during the pandemic.

She told the inquiry: “If you wait until the thing you’re worried about is really, really bad and growth is exponential and fast, you can very easily end up with things twice as bad at the hospital door, even if you put in a brilliant intervention.”

Badenoch was ‘accused of being part of Covid conspiracy’

06:00 , Katy Clifton

Last week, business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch has described being confronted in the street and accused of being part of a Covid-19 conspiracy to cull parts of the population, as she called on the government to do more about the spread of misinformation.

Giving evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Thursday, the former equalities minister also questioned the use of category BAME (black and minority ethnic) in analysis of the disproportionate impact of the virus.

Discussing government efforts to improve vaccine uptake during the pandemic, she said some people believed the publicity campaigns were a part of a sinister “secret conspiracy”.

Ms Badenoch said: “There was a fear that a lot of the communications about disproportionate impact was actually a secret conspiracy to scare ethnic minorities into taking vaccines which was a way of the Government culling the population.

“So even the things that we were doing in order to identify risk were being manipulated into conspiracy theories to deter people from doing what would help them mitigate that risk, and that was something I was particularly concerned about.”

Kemi Badenoch (PA)
Kemi Badenoch (PA)

Who is up at the Covid inquiry today?

05:00 , Katy Clifton

Housing secretary Michael Gove, formerly the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will give evidence to the Covid-19 inquiry alongside former deputy chief medical officer Professor Dame Jenny Harries.

We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates throughout the day.

ICYMI: Boris ‘not aware’ other countries had imposed Covid lockdowns, says Khan

03:00 , Katy Clifton

Government failed to act quickly, inquiry told

02:00 , Katy Clifton

Last week, the nation’s chief scientific adviser said the government’s failure to act quickly in response to warnings about rising Covid-19 cases in autumn 2020 led to preventable deaths.

Professor Dame Angela McLean criticised a “lack of appreciation that very quick decisions were needed” during the pandemic, and said this was the “most significant shortcoming” in decision-making.

She told the UK Covid-19 public inquiry on Thursday that ministers had enough data to lock down earlier in March 2020, and also failed to act quickly when cases were rising in autumn that year.

Dame Angela said she was in agreement with Professor John Edmunds that ministers were “making the same mistakes again” by not imposing tighter restrictions in the autumn. “If we had acted decisively then we would have learned from March, but we didn’t,” she said.

She criticised a lack of action in September 2020 when she and other scientists were calling for a “circuit breaker” to reduce cases.

When asked if the failure to impose circuit-breaker restrictions was a mistake, she said: “Yes, I believe that was a mistake. If we had a circuit breaker in September cases would have dropped a little bit and then we would have bought some time. The number of infections kept rising through September and October with attendant hospitalisations and, sadly, deaths.”

Sadiq Khan: Lives could have been saved

00:01 , Katy Clifton

Sadiq Khan yesterday accused the government of failing to keep him informed about the severity of Covid-19 in early 2020, saying “lives could have been saved” if he had been invited to emergency Cobra meetings.

Giving evidence at the start of a major week for the Covid inquiry, the Mayor of London confirmed multiple requests to attend the meetings in early 2020 were rejected by Downing Street on the grounds that other mayors would also have to be present.

He also criticised a lack of communication from the government, saying it was “unusual” that he had not been given more information on the developing pandemic.

Mr Khan told the inquiry: “The government generally does give us information about a variety of things happening. I’m disappointed the Government weren’t giving us information in February about what they knew then.”

Matt Hancock ‘knew lockdown tiers would not work’, Covid inquiry hears

Monday 27 November 2023 22:02 , Holly Evans

Matt Hancock implemented the tier 3 Covid restrictions despite knowing they would not work, the Covid inquiry has heard.

In the former health secretary’s evidence to the probe on the measures which saw pubs, restaurants and bars closed, Mr Hancock said: “I was in despair that we had announced a policy that we knew would not work.”

The submission was read out by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who used his appearance to slam the Westminster government’s “London-centric” approach to the pandemic.

Read the full article from Archie Mitchell here

Matt Hancock ‘knew lockdown tiers would not work’, Covid inquiry hears

Welcome to our live coverage

Monday 27 November 2023 21:59 , Holly Evans

Welcome to our live coverage of the Covid-19 inquiry as housing secretary Michael Gove, formerly the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will give evidence.

We’ll be bringing you live updates here.