Covid inquiry must not repeat mistakes of Chilcot and Penrose inquiries

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today set out his party’s expectations for the forthcoming Covid public inquiry, including calling for initial findings to be reported within a year

The Iraq Inquiry took seven years from when hearings first began to the publication of the Chilcot Report. The Penrose Inquiry into the contaminated blood disaster was set up by Nicola Sturgeon in 2008 and didn’t report until 2015.  The Edinburgh Tram Inquiry was announced by Alex Salmond in 2014 and is still to report.

Guaranteeing that the lessons of the pandemic are learned is part of the new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader’s New Hope for Health plan.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

“Scotland needs a ruthless and thorough public inquiry that can go anywhere, speak to anyone and demand answers for all those who have suffered so much over the past two years. 

“Unfortunately, we know from past form that these inquiries can drag on for years before reaching a conclusion and time is pressing. 

“That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for a commitment to deliver interim inquiry findings within a year.

“There are two major reasons for wanting interim findings to be compiled. First of all, as time passes, documentation is lost and memories fade. Justice delayed could be justice denied. 

“The second is that there is no guarantee that a pandemic on this scale is a once-in-a-hundred-years affair. The inquiry will need to consider care homes, test and protect, the impact of travel restrictions and more and offer up lessons for how mistakes can be avoided if, god forbid, we find ourselves in the same circumstances again.

Last time the Scottish Government’s narrow and shallow pandemic exercises failed us badly but this inquiry can provide critical early learning and intelligence for the future.”

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