Letters: Who will benefit from this ludicrously drawn-out, costly Covid inquiry

The National Covid Memorial Wall in London. The inquiry could last seven years and cost £114 million - Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
The National Covid Memorial Wall in London. The inquiry could last seven years and cost £114 million - Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

SIR – I read with horror that the Covid inquiry has already cost £114 million (report, March 18), with 150 lawyers involved, and could take up to seven years to complete.

None of this will bring back my husband, or the many others who died. The inquiry is at risk of being a huge waste of time and money – from which nothing is learnt.

Ruth Bragman
Kingston Hill, Surrey

SIR – Relying on the advice of public-health doctors was not only the undoing of politicians, but also the cause of one of the most serious restrictions of civil liberties in British history.

I cannot understand why so much money and so many lawyers are necessary to find that the mismanagement of the Covid pandemic was characterised by a combination of ignorance and incompetence.

David Nunn FRCS
Port Isaac, Cornwall

SIR – As a confirmed cynic, I would echo Ian Robinson’s views on the Covid inquiry (Letters, March 20).

Furthermore, I would observe that one of our great growth industries is inquiries. Creating months – if not years – of employment for the legal profession, these inquiries contribute nothing to the economy, seldom reach firm conclusions and rarely apportion blame.

All too often the guilty are rewarded for failure, and taxpayers’ hard-earned cash is squandered.

David Hutchinson
Nutley, East Sussex

SIR – Would it not be more pragmatic and economic to cut proceedings short?

A report could be published in the category of fiction, finding all those involved in this unholy national health fiasco blameless as regards any criminal negligence, money-wasting, cronyism, corruption, cover-ups or breaches of the law.

That way, at least, we could all vent our collective spleens knowing that no more public money was going to be wasted.

Kim Potter
Lambourn, Berkshire

SIR – Surely all we need to know is that everyone – except, perhaps, Sweden – got it wrong.

Ian Lewis
Wannock, East Sussex

SIR – What is the use of spending so much time and money on this inquiry? Why is it not possible to produce a one-year study containing a list of lessons to be learnt?

There could then be a rerun of Exercise Cygnus, testing our readiness for a future pandemic, but with a crucial difference – the results would be acted upon, and the necessary preparations made.

This might mean that, when the inevitable occurs, we are actually able to deal with it.

Neil Kerr
Pontrilas, Herefordshire

Sunak’s Brexit deal

SIR – It should surprise no one that the DUP intends to reject Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework – least of all Mr Sunak himself.

He has been evasive about the extent to which EU regulation would still apply in Northern Ireland – but DUP politicians are more canny than he hoped, and have evidently considered the document in detail.

Stephen Garner
Colchester, Essex

SIR – Despite a large majority, this Government has been unwilling to use its new freedoms. It hasn’t even forced through the legislation to remove retained EU law.

If the Windsor Framework draws Britain into a form of Brexit in Name Only, it will be clear that the Tories have learnt nothing from 2019.

S J Morris
Whittlebury, Northamptonshire

Koh-i-Noor symbolism

SIR – You report (March 16) that the Tower of London authorities have condemned the Koh-i-Noor diamond as a “conquest symbol”.

As the Tower of London itself is by far the most prominent “conquest symbol” in the British Isles, should it not be closed down by its (sadly ill-informed) woke controllers?

Nikolai Tolstoy
Southmoor, Berkshire

Seeing red

SIR – Over the weekend we witnessed the worst of professional football and the best of rugby when players were shown red cards (Sport, March 20).

Freddie Steward, the England rugby full-back, accepted the decision and showed no sign of dissent, even though his offense was debatable.

Meanwhile, however, Fulham FC’s Aleksandar Mitrović lost control of his emotions and behaved in a totally unacceptable manner, pushing the referee and shouting in his face.

I know which sport I would prefer my grandchildren to play.

John W Smith

SIR – In the early 1950s, my brother and I were founder members of the Jimmy Hill Appreciation Society. He must have been turning in his grave when Fulham’s manager and two of its players were sent off on Sunday.

We later switched our allegiance to Arsenal.

John Taylor
Purley, Surrey

Fall of the SNP

SIR – The collapse of the SNP hierarchy (report, March 20) was only ever a matter of time.

The party did succeed in fooling most of its followers most of the time, with its chest-beating, anti-Westminster rhetoric. However, the problems in Scotland’s NHS, police, economy, infrastructure and education system have now been laid bare.

No longer can the SNP blame the Tory bogeyman: this mess is of its own making.

Allan Thompson

SIR – The case for Scottish independence has imploded.

In 2014 we witnessed the end of the Alex Salmond era, after Scottish voters rejected his call for independence.

Nicola Sturgeon revived the cause, but her career has suffered a similar fate – as has that of her husband, Peter Murrell.

It seems unlikely that any of the candidates for the position of first minister will inspire much support, especially since they all seem intent on undermining each other.

Robert I G Scott
Ceres, Fife

Aircraft to Ukraine

SIR – Carol White’s call (Letters, March 20) for Britain to send aircraft to Ukraine is understandable but, sadly, misplaced, and reflects a lack of awareness of the parlous state of our own air force.

We are now wholly dependent upon one class of aircraft – the Typhoon – for both our air defence and ground attack roles. These are sophisticated aircraft that require an extended period of familiarisation, and we have few of them. With detachments operating overseas in Cyprus and, often, Estonia, the RAF is stretched very thin.

Nigel Carter
Devizes, Wiltshire

The Marbles dilemma

SIR – There is broad agreement that the Elgin Marbles (report, March 20) should not be exposed to atmospheric pollution and should be kept indoors.

In that case, it makes little difference to the world where they are kept, provided that they are easy to visit. What the British Museum should do is offer to fund the creation of exact replicas – visually indistinguishable from the originals, though perhaps coloured as they would first have been – to be displayed in the original positions on the Parthenon itself. From that, everyone would benefit.

David J Critchley

Make peace with pests

SIR – I was disappointed to read Bunny Guinness’s article (Weekend, March 18) on tackling garden pests, from slugs to squirrels.

I welcome all creatures into my garden (it’s their garden too) and could not do them harm. Of course it is disappointing when our favourite plants are eaten, but we have to acknowledge the bigger picture.

Louise Meadows
Boston Spa, West Yorkshire

Age of excitement

SIR – My local optician recently wrote to me to tell me about its “exciting” new name change. Last week, HSBC wrote to tell me about its “exciting” changes to my login page.

Sadly, neither stirred me. Should I seek help?

Francis Caton
Abingdon, Oxfordshire

A Guinness sceptic lured to the dark side

‘Toucans in their nests agree: Guinness is good for you’. A 1950s advertisement - alamy
‘Toucans in their nests agree: Guinness is good for you’. A 1950s advertisement - alamy

SIR – I didn’t like Guinness until I visited the brewery in Dublin. After being shown round, everyone was given half a pint of Foreign Extra Stout and half a pint of Extra Stout.

I think the Prince of Wales, who struggles to finish a whole pint of Guinness (report, March 18), might change his mind if he tried the freshly brewed samples.

Michael Simmons
Chepstow, Monmouthshire

SIR – Many years ago, I was a lucky recipient of biennial check-ups with Bupa. On one occasion, when I was somewhere in my mid-thirties, my consultant told me that I was thickening around the waist, and that if I cut my drinking in half the problem would be resolved. “If I cut my drinking in half”, I said, “I might just get down to what I put on that form” (Letters, March 15).

To give him his due, he did laugh.

Paul Crowhurst

SIR – Why does our drinks industry sell alcohol-free beers at the same prices as beers that bear alcohol duty?

Nicky Samengo-Turner

SIR – Over the weekend I received a repeat alcohol order from Amazon. The delivery man was adamant that I had to show proof of age.

I am 75.

Jim Parker
Croydon, Surrey

Why a dog can be a runner’s best friend

SIR – Years ago, for my regular 20-mile Sunday morning run, I took a border collie with me (Letters, March 20).

The run included country lanes and rural roads with pavements; the dog trotted along behind me without a lead. He had great stamina, was very obedient and took no notice of nearby dogs yapping and straining at their leads. He lived to a ripe old age.

Tony Manning
Barton on Sea, Hampshire

SIR – I had a lurcher called Sally (named after Sally Gunnell, because she could jump any fence).

I also used to be a national hunt permit holder, and Sally would accompany me to the gallops.

If the horses were able to get to the top of the steep hills at around the same time as her, I knew that they were fit to race.

Judy Young
London SW11

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