Welsh Government supports 'four nation' Covid inquiry into handling of pandemic

Each government of the UK has taken its own approach in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic Credit: PA

The Welsh Government would support an independent inquiry into the four nations of the UK's approach to the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as Boris Johnson announced an independent public inquiry would take place starting in Spring 2022.

The prime minister told MPs the inquiry would be able to take oral evidence under oath and will place “the state’s actions under the microscope”.

Although Mr Johnson has repeatedly said there would be an inquiry, he had never indicated when it would start and has never suggested whether it would be a "full, proper public inquiry" or one that is less formal and less time-consuming.

A full inquiry is led by a judge and includes witnesses represented by lawyers.

Such a public inquiry - like Sir John Chilcott's into the decision to go to war in Iraq - would take many years and might not report until after the next election.

It comes as a damning report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO), said a quicker international response could have stopped the 2019 coronavirus outbreak in China becoming a global catastrophe.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said the First Minister has had "preliminary discussions" about an inquiry with the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove. It added it "supports a four-nation, independent inquiry into the pandemic.”

Mr Johnson outlined the impact of the pandemic before telling the House of Commons on Wednesday that his government would "work closely with the devolved administrations."

“Amid such tragedy the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future – which is why I’ve always said when the time is right there should be a full and independent inquiry.

“So, I can confirm today that the Government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 – including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath.

“In establishing the inquiry, we will work closely with the devolved administrations.”