People’s Covid Inquiry: Misconduct in Public Office

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The People’s Covid Inquiry has accused the Government of ‘misconduct in public office’ yesterday over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic which led to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths.

Yesterday, on Wednesday 1 December, the People’s Covid Inquiry organised by Keep Our NHS Public presented our finished report. 

In the absence of a formal public inquiry into the pandemic, The People’s Covid Inquiry began in February 2021 and concluded it’s hearings in the summer. It covered all aspects of the government’s handling of the pandemic and heard testimony from a wide range of people and organisations. These included previous government advisors and key academics, as well as frontline workers and bereaved family members. The Inquiry was chaired by world renowned human rights barrister Michael Mansfield QC who, together with a panel of experts, have now delivered their findings and recommendations on all main aspects of the pandemic to date.


1. The depleted state of the NHS and other public services prior to the pandemic was a determining factor in poor outcomes and led to avoidable deaths.

2. The government was poorly prepared for the pandemic and moved too slowly, which led to avoidable death.

3. The government adopted the wrong strategy leading to loss of life and growing mistrust in its advice.

4. The government’s poor record on inequalities has put the most vulnerable at risk from illness and death from Covid-19.

5. Misconduct in public office: There has been dismal failure in the face of manifestly obvious risks. 

The report received a huge amount of press interest just a section of which you can read by clicking on the icons below:

People’s Covid Inquiry chair Michael Mansfield QC, said:

“This People’s Covid Inquiry report is unequivocal – dismal failure in the face of manifestly obvious risks…This Inquiry performed a much-needed and urgent public service when the nation was hit by a catastrophic pandemic coincident with an unprecedented period of democratic deficiency. It afforded an opportunity for the beleaguered citizen to be heard; for the victims to be addressed; for the frontline workers to be recognised; and for independent experts to be respected. When it mattered most and when lives could have been saved, the various postures adopted by government could not sustain scrutiny.”

“It was plain to Keep Our NHS Public (the organisers of the People’s Covid Inquiry) that Government words were bloated hot air, hoping to delay and obfuscate. Within this narrative lies a theme of behaviour amounting to gross negligence by the Government, whether examined singularly or collectively. There were lives lost and lives devastated, which was foreseeable and preventable. From lack of preparation and coherent policy, unconscionable delay, through to preferred and wasteful procurement, to ministers themselves breaking the rules, the misconduct is earth-shattering.”

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public and retired Consultant Paediatrician, said:

“We are proud that our Inquiry filled the deafening silence from Government and set out to learn the lessons that could save lives in this and future pandemics. We are shocked at the avoidable loss of tens of thousands of lives through the neglect of pandemic planning, the run down of the NHS, and the intense inequality in this country. We heard the pride of NHS, care and other frontline staff and we heard about their pain, exhaustion and moral injury. The level of government cronyism and resultant profiteering has been blatant and in plain sight. Our overall conclusion is that there has been misconduct in public office. This has to be addressed. If we ignore it, the country cannot learn the lessons from today to face the challenge of tomorrow.”

The pandemic is not over, and despite previous improvements, infection rates and death tolls are once again rising. As winter approaches and the Omicron Variant takes hold, the government must act now or more avoidable deaths will occur.

With political will and public support, there is no reason we can’t still emerge from the pandemic with an NHS that is not on the brink of collapse as it is now, but having learned lessons, gained experience, and seen proper investment in a publicly provided health-and-care service, in order to keep the nation safe as and when another crisis like this occurs.

The Executive Summary and the Full Report of the People’s Covid Inquiry is available to download here.

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