Covid inquiry live news: Patrick Vallance to be questioned over Boris Johnson’s pandemic handling diaries

Covid research roundup: Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings provide disturbing insights into No 10

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak will brace for fresh criticism over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic as Sir Patrick Vallance takes the stand at the Covid inquiry on Monday morning.

The government's former chief scientific adviser is due to give evidence from 10.30am. and will likely face questioning over personal diaries handed over to the inquiry – which have offered disturbing insights into the then prime minister's handling of the crisis.

Those diary entries suggest Johnson was “obsessed with the elderly accepting their fate” and revealed the then prime minister once referred to the Treasury – then headed by Mr Sunak – as a “pro-death team”.

After a week-long break, Sir Patrick's all-day testimony marks the restart of a round of politically explosive hearings with a cast of former officials embedded deep in the heart of government during the pandemic, including Dominic Cummings, Lee Cain and Helen MacNamara .

The inquiry is being launched by former chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty on Tuesday, followed by his deputy Professor Jonathan Van-Tam on Wednesday.


Political Explanation | The winners and losers of the Covid survey so far

Our associate editor Sean O'Grady writes:

After a slow start, the UK's Covid-19 inquiry, also known as the Hallett Inquiry chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, is producing some sensational content, as we say these days.

Witness statements and the standoff between Dominic Cummings and Helen MacNamara have hit the headlines and damaged the reputations of many of the players in this ‘drama' – not just Boris Johnson.

The steady stream of revelations has also – especially for the Conservatives – been an unwelcome reminder of their failures in power during this transcendent crisis. While many voters would have made up their minds long ago about the party and its leadership, the survey – which would have only started if the general election had been held as expected in the summer of 2023 – will permeate the world of politics next year and beyond. …

You can read his full analysis of the survey results here with Independent Premium:

Andy GregoryNovember 20, 2023 10:01 am


The diaries are likely to be the focus of Sir Patrick Vallance's testimony

Sir Patrick Vallance is likely to be questioned about diary entries he has submitted to the Covid inquiry detailing his experiences advising Boris Johnson's government during the pandemic.

Those holdings have already provided important insights into the chaos and discord within the government as political leaders scramble to find the best way to overcome the crisis.

They also offered revelations about how Sir Patrick sometimes viewed the approaches of the Prime Minister and the Treasury. In one excerpt, Mr Johnson is said to have joked that the Treasury was “the death squad” during the pandemic because it wanted to quickly ease lockdown restrictions:

Andy GregoryNovember 20, 2023 09:56


Good morning, we will be using this blog to bring you live updates on the Covid investigation as former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance prepares for a full day of evidence.

Andy Gregory20 November 2023 09:50