The ‘UK COVID-19 Inquiry’ (“Inquiry”) is a public Inquiry which has been set up to examine the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the Inquiry is to ensure that the UK can learn from its mistakes in order for it to be better prepared to respond to any future pandemic. As such, the Inquiry will need to be clear about what the scope of its investigation will be and what it will need to look into. The scope of the Inquiry is set out in what is known as ‘Terms of Reference’.
Consultation on the draft Terms of Reference
The Government has given the Chair of the Inquiry, Baroness Hallett, draft Terms of Reference and the public consultation on the draft Terms of Reference is now open for the public to respond with their views. The deadline for responding to the consultation is 7 April 2022.
It is worth mentioning that the Inquiry is not at this stage, seeking evidence from the public or interested in hearing their own individual experiences of the pandemic just yet. That will come later in later on in the process at the evidence gathering stage. Instead, the views shared by the public now need to be in relation to directing the Inquiry in relation to areas it should focus on and look into.
What happens next?
Once the deadline for submitting responses to the public consultation has passed, Baroness Hallett will consider people’s views on the draft Terms of Reference before recommending any amendments to them to the Prime Minister. This will be done as quickly as possible.
Once the Terms of Reference are finalised, more detail will be provided in relation to the next stage of the process which includes the gathering of evidence. At the evidence gathering stage, people will be able to share their specific experiences of the pandemic.