Scottish Government to hold own Covid-19 inquiry

With UK-wide public inquiry delayed until 2022, Sturgeon says Scotland's probe should start "as soon as possible"
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said a public inquiry would be "extremely important" for learning lessons from the pandemic, visits a Covid-19 vaccination centre. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Scottish Government has published information about the forthcoming judge-led Covid-19 public inquiry.

The government is now seeking feedback on the draft aims and principles of the inquiry, which is set to start before the end of the year.

In addition to scrutinising decisions taken by ministers throughout the pandemic, it will also examine the “four harms” of the virus on health, non-Covid health impacts, societal impacts and economic impacts.

Covid recovery secretary John Swinney said the publication of the paper is an “important step towards the establishment” of the inquiry.

He added: “We will continue to listen to those affected by Covid-19, including bereaved families, on what they wish the public inquiry to focus on. Their feedback will be fundamental in reviewing the suggested approach set out here and setting the terms of reference for an independent Scottish inquiry.

“Discussions are also ongoing with the UK government on the planned four-nations inquiry, to ensure all areas that need to be considered are covered in a way that gives confidence to bereaved families and others.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the inquiry will have a role to play in "identifying and learning appropriate lessons for the future". 

She said: "I do believe that a full public inquiry has an extremely important role to play both in scrutinising the decisions we took, and indeed continue to take in the course of the pandemic, but also of course in identifying and learning appropriate lessons for the future. 

"I therefore believe that it is appropriate to establish that inquiry as soon as possible now and the process we've begun today is an important step towards that."

A UK-wide inquiry is not due to start until spring 2022.

But the Scottish one will investigate the experience of care homes, lessons learned from the pandemic and how different outcomes could have been achieved in Scotland.

It will be independent from government and will publish at set of recommendations at the end.

The lord advocate has begun discussions with the lord president about appointing a judge to lead the inquiry. 

This article was first published by CSW's sister title Holyrood

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