Families who lost loved ones to Covid meet chair of troubled Scottish inquiry

Families who lost loved ones to Covid meet chair of troubled Scottish inquiry <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Families who lost loved ones to Covid meet chair of troubled Scottish inquiry (Image: PA)

Scottish families who lost loved ones to Covid have met with the new chair of Scotland’s troubled inquiry into the pandemic.

Lord Brailsford spent two hours talking to the Scottish members of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group.

Aamer Anwar, the solicitor representing the group, “welcomed the genuine empathy and compassion that Lord Brailsford showed them today as they as they told him their heartbreaking stories”.

He added: “The families recognise the mammoth task that is faced by Lord Brailsford, but believe that he has pressed the reset button on the Scottish inquiry and were heartened to learn he hopes to commence hearings in 2023.”

It has been nearly a year since the inquiry was set up, yet it still has not had any hearings.

The appointment of Lord Brailsford follows the shock resignation of Lady Poole in October. She stood down citing personal reasons. Four lawyers working on the inquiry also unexpectedly quit shortly after.

Mr Anwar said families believed there had been a shift in tone. He said the initial meeting with Lady Poole had not been "happy."

“The families felt that they didn’t get the compassion and empathy they wanted, they didn’t think they were front and centre,” Mr Anwar said.

He added that the meeting on Tuesday “felt like a very different experience”.

Peter McMahon, a member of the group, said their meeting with Lady Poole felt like a “box-ticking exercise”.

“We all felt like we weren’t being listened to. She listened to the stories but she wasn’t taking anything in,” he said.

Mr McMahon said the meeting on Tuesday was a “different kettle of fish” and said Lord Brailsford showed empathy and compassion.

“A much better meeting today and we have gone away with a bit more confidence, and he has told us that the work that Lady Poole and her team had carried out up to this point … that’s not going to be in vain, they are going to use that going forward.

“And simple things like, they have actually got premises set up that Lady Poole never even achieved … in the months that she was in the chair.”

The inquiry - which has cost more than £2m so far - has twelve terms of reference, including the decision to lockdown and apply other restrictions, and the rules around testing, outbreak management and self-isolation.

Lord Brailsford will also look at the transfer of residents to or from care or nursing homes, as well as the treatment and care of residents, restrictions on visiting, infection prevention and control, and inspections.

When he was appointed as inquiry chairman, he said the inquiry sought to “find out whether anything could, or even should, have been done differently and what lessons can be learned for the future”.

He also promised families the inquiry would work independently to find answers