The Scottish Government has announced it will be launching its own inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic amidst pressure from grieving families.
Today, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Scotland intends to hold its own judge-led inquiry into all matters concerning the pandemic, within the devolved competence of the Scottish government. This will include the handling of the situation in care homes and other “events causing public concern”.
Particular consideration will be given to the so called “four harms” of the pandemic: direct health impacts of Covid-19, other non-Covid health impacts, societal impacts and economic impacts.
This announcement follows pressure to act from grieving family members. Since the start of the pandemic, almost 10,500 Covid-19 related deaths have been registered in Scotland.
Campaigners from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group claimed a separate Scottish inquiry was needed to hold the Scottish Government to account.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney met with representatives of the group shortly before the announcement was made.
A draft of aims and principles for the inquiry was published today, with members of the public invited to comment until the end of September.
Nicola Sturgeon spoke at a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh shortly after the publication.
She said of the inquiry: “I can confirm it will be established by the end of this year, as promised, and it will take a person-centred, human rights-based approach.”
She added that Scotland’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, had begun discussions about appointing a judge to lead the inquiry.
The intention of the inquiry is to scrutinise the efficacy of decisions made in the early stages of the crisis and to identify lessons to be learnt for the future.
First Minister Sturgeon had previously claimed her preference was for a UK-wide inquiry to be held. But with Boris Johnson announcing in May that an independent public inquiry examining the handling of the pandemic across all four UK nations would not begin until the spring of next year, the Scottish government heeded calls for sooner action.
“The need for co-operation with other governments is not in my view a reason to delay the establishment of our own inquiry.”, Sturgeon stated.
Nonetheless, the First Minister has stressed the importance of working with the UK government to avoid duplication and overlap.
Responding to the announcement, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the inquiry itself should have begun within the first 100 days of the reformed Scottish Government.
“Despite promising the people of Scotland that a Scottish-specific inquiry was on the SNP’s 100-day list, the SNP has shown that it simply is not a priority for them. They are dragging their feet, ignoring the pain of the grieving families and sacrifices of thousands of key workers”, he said.