LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday appointed a former judge to lead an inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which is likely to focus on why the United Kingdom suffered one of Europe’s worst death tolls.
Heather Hallett, who retired from the Court of Appeal in 2019, acted as coroner at the inquest into the deaths from the July 7, 2005, London bombings, the capital’s deadliest terrorism attack, and was chair of the Iraq Fatalities Investigation.
“I want to thank Baroness Hallett for agreeing to take on the position of Chair of the Covid-19 Inquiry,” Johnson said. “She brings a wealth of experience to the role and I know shares my determination that the inquiry examines in a forensic and thoroughgoing way the government’s response to the pandemic.”
In the face of accusations he was slow to impose lockdowns, Johnson and his ministers have admitted there are lessons to be learned from the crisis.
The inquiry, set to begin its work in spring 2022, will delve into the decision-making at the heart of the British state when ministers mulled the imposition of unprecedented peacetime restrictions and scrambled to buy billions of pounds worth of drugs and equipment.