Dominic Cummings: Families who lost loved ones due to Covid 'in tears of anger and pain' after hearing evidence

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reports on the reaction from care home staff and grieving families as Dominic Cummings rubbishes Matt Hancock's claims during the pandemic

Families who lost loved ones due to Covid-19 are “in tears of anger and pain” after Dominic Cummings gave evidence about the government’s handling of the pandemic, a campaign group said.

During the seven-hour hearing, the former advisor claimed prime minister Boris Johnson viewed the novel coronavirus as a "scare story" and a "new swine flu" at the start of the pandemic, and was more worried about the economy, leading to a late lockdown at the end of March.

And he claimed herd immunity was part of the government's original plan and the then Cabinet Secretary suggested encouraging people to have "chicken pox parties" to spread the disease.

Downing Street denied it had planned to use herd immunity in its Covid strategy and Johnson responded to claims of complacency about the virus: "I don't think anybody could credibly accuse this Government of being complacent about the threat that this virus posed at any point."

Dr Lobby Akinnola, whose father Femi died from coronavirus early in the pandemic, said he felt "viscerally ill" upon hearing Cummings' evidence and said it brought him back to the moment he learned his dad had died.

He told ITV News: "I definitely felt viscerally ill because I was just sad, so sad because I didn't have to be here, I didn't have to be here.

Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson was 'unfit for the job' of prime minister as he gave evidence to MPs on Wednesday Credit: ITV News

"I don't have to be having this conversation if only some people thought: 'Hang on, this is serious. We need to do something.'"

He also said: "The first thing that came was a wave of dread. It put me right back to the moment of getting that call that dad has died because in that, there's a helplessness and a loss.

"And you want to do everything you can to make it not be true.

"And then, hearing the somewhat, I believe, cavalier attitude which they treated it just put me right back to this thing of: something could've been done, some action could've been taken to prevent this."

'I'm one person and my life has forever changed... I don't think it's possible to comprehend the cost of this 'take it on the chin' attitude,' said Dr Lobby Akinnola, whose father died from Covid

Speaking about the impact of the loss, Dr Akinnola said: "It was his birthday yesterday and my mum put a picture up of just the two of them sat on the sofa and she was like, 'This was the plan, to grow old together.'

"And they can't do that anymore. And I wanted to my future kids to have a grandfather, so they knew my hero."

He said: "I'm one person and my life has forever changed. My dad was loved by so many and to think he is one of over 100,000 people, I don't think it's possible to comprehend the cost of this 'take it on the chin' attitude."

Dr Akkinnola described his dad as the person he "checked in with all the time" and said the loss is a "complete and deafening silence".

Anger at 'the idea that these people had the power to intervene and chose not to'

Campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, said Wednesday was a “horrible, upsetting and bleak day for over 150,000 families across the country”.

In a statement on Twitter, the group said "the government’s combination of grotesque chaos and uncaring flippancy is directly responsible for many of our loved ones not being with us today".

It also criticised the "pantomime-style spat between Cummings and Johnson", saying: "This spectacle is a million miles from that and has left many of the bereaved in tears of anger and pain today."

It called for the independent public inquiry promised by the prime minister to start immediately.

The government 'let us down, they really let us down', says care home manager

Mr Cummings also blamed health secretary Matt Hancock for the failure to test residents returning to care homes from hospital.

Debbie Adams, who manages a care home in Luton, in July last year branded the prime minister a "joke" after he suggested “too many” care homes did not properly follow procedures during the pandemic.

After watching Cummings giving evidence on Wednesday, she said she felt "angry, really angry".

But she said she also felt relieved that "the truth" had come out.

She told ITV News Correspondent Paul Brand, "There's a lot of lives been lost, Paul, a lot of lives and it could've been stopped."

'There's a lot of lives been lost, and it could've been stopped'

Ms Adams called for Mr Hancock to resign as she said Johnson's administration had "let us down".

She added: "Boris Johnson, at the end of the day, you're meant to be running a government.

"I don't know what they're doing but they need to sit and think about people and be honest with us."

Coronavirus: What you need to know - Listen in for the latest information, advice and analysis on the pandemic: