On 12 May 2021, the Government announced that it intended to launch an independent public inquiry into the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2022.
Hundreds of witnesses are likely to be called during the independent public inquiry into the UK’s Covid-19 pandemic response.
Many will have to relive distressing experiences but if you are one of them, you do not have to face this experience alone as Duncan Lewis Solicitors has an established and specialist team to offer advice and guidance.
The members of our specially created team of solicitors are expert in this area of law and have significant experience representing people in public inquiries, throughout each stage of the inquiry process, which includes representing core participants in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and the Brook House Inquiry. They are, therefore, well placed to handle the sensitive issues that may arise during the Covid-19 Inquiry.
The inquiry was announced in 2021 to address significant public concern about its response to the pandemic, and follows on from the damning findings of the Parliamentary report of the Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, published on 12 October 2021.
The purpose of the inquiry is to ascertain exactly what happened, why, and what can be done to prevent it from happening in the future. The terms are currently wide-ranging and are yet to be set but have been split into two main areas:
Many witnesses who lost loved ones are likely to be called to give evidence, along with representatives from special interest groups such as health, social care, education, charities and the leisure industry.
Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE will Chair the inquiry, alongside expert panel members due to be appointed in 2022. The inquiry will have full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005, which will enable the panel to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to provide oral testimony on oath.
The Prime Minister is consulting with Baroness Hallett and the devolved administrations on the terms of reference, due to be published in draft next month. The Baroness has further committed to seeking views from bereaved families and other affected groups before setting the terms of reference. Once set, individuals will be asked to provide evidence as a witness or be a core participant in the proceedings.
The Covid-19 Inquiry will deal with the large number of deaths, and address complex matters. Appearing before the inquiry may therefore seem intimidating and challenging, and it is vital that individuals obtain specialist legal advice.
Given the pandemic’s wide-ranging impact on society and people’s lives, the inquiry will engage many areas of law, including public law, community care, civil liberties and human rights, family, housing, prison law, crime and more.
Our expert inquiry team includes lawyers from each of these departments, equipping them with the skills and expertise required to provide clients with the highest standard of advice, assistance and support throughout their inquiry involvement.
This cross-departmental proficiency ensures our public inquiry team are adept at interviewing and taking statements from witnesses and core participants, advising on the procedures of the inquiry, assisting with evidence and handling media scrutiny.
Appearing before a public inquiry can be daunting and we understand there are often wider interests at stake, including an individual’s reputation, as well as professional, commercial and financial implications. We offer careful assistance, focusing on these concerns and how the immediate demands of the inquiry affect all participants, including senior professionals, public officials, major corporations and public sector bodies.
Anyone deemed a core participant or witness can apply for funding and our solicitors can apply for funding from the inquiry team on your behalf.
If you have been asked to be a core participant or witness in the Covid-19 Inquiry and require expert legal advice, please contact a member of our public inquiry team on 0333 772 0409 or email email@example.com.