Opposition parties demand Wales-only Covid-19 inquiry

Members of the Scottish branch of the UK group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice met with the Deputy First Minister of Scotland on a Scottish public inquiry. Credit: PA Images

Opposition parties have called on the Welsh Government to follow the lead of Scotland and hold an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the judge-led inquiry in Scotland will be established by the end of the year.

The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru accused the Labour-run Welsh Government of seeking to avoid scrutiny by not holding a separate inquiry in Wales.

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies said: "The Scottish First Minister - like the Prime Minister - has done the right thing by announcing a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic by her government."

"Regrettably, in Wales, Labour and the First Minister (Mark Drakeford) have sought to block such scrutiny, transparency and accountability and it's an unacceptable situation which cannot continue."

"Decisions made in Wales - both good and bad - had a direct impact on lives and that cannot be dismissed by a Labour administration that was keen to stress at every opportunity that they have done things differently."

"The calls from bereaved families in Wales are getting louder and louder, and the First Minister should now confirm that those people who've lost loved ones will receive the same respect from their Government in Wales as in other parts of Britain."

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Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid's health spokesman added: "For over a year Plaid Cymru has asked for a Wales-only public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic.

"The Labour Government in Cardiff has instead opted to have a Welsh chapter in a UK-wide inquiry."

"The Scottish Government has announced it will hold its own public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic by the end of the year. The Welsh Government have no excuse not to do the same."

"Wales rightly acted independently in so many areas during the pandemic and with so many of the relevant policy areas devolved, and so many decisions having been taken in Wales, we need a Wales-specific inquiry."

"The loss of life, as well as the loss of freedoms, of education, and a deep economic impact, will weigh heavy on us for years to come."

"We need to look at what happened in detail, and in public, to learns lessons for the future."

"The Welsh Government has got to take responsibility for its actions - good and bad - and there should be no avoidance of detailed scrutiny."

"In rejecting the demand for a Wales-specific public inquiry, the Labour Government is essentially agreeing to the Prime Minister's delay, and confirming that they're happy for Wales to be a chapter in the deferred UK inquiry. The people of Wales are owed more than that."

Credit: PA Images

A spokeswoman for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru Group welcomed the announcement of an inquiry in Scotland.

"Wales has suffered a huge loss of life from Covid-19 and as the families left behind, we feel that we deserve the same level of scrutiny," they said.

"The decision in Scotland only reinforces the need for Mark Drakeford to hold a Wales-specific inquiry and anything less from the Welsh Government is putting lives at risk."

Solicitor Craig Court, who is representing the group, added: "The announcement today from the Scottish Government of their plans to start a statutory public inquiry before the end of the year will leave many families in Wales questioning why is this not happening here.

"Both health and social care are devolved in Wales so are controlled and managed by the Welsh Government.

"Just as in Scotland, it's therefore critical that Wales has its own inquiry so that we can seek greater transparency and accountability and lessons can be learned."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We are considering the Scottish Government's proposal alongside our continued engagement with the UK Government on the detail of the four-nation inquiry.

"We are seeking commitment that the four-nation inquiry will deal comprehensively with the actions of the Welsh Government and the experiences of the people of Wales."