London, Dec 6 (EFE).- Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday apologized for the “pain and loss” of victims of Covid-19.
In his opening remarks to the official UK Covid inquiry, which is being chaired by former judge Heather Hallett, Johnson admitted that “mistakes had been made” by his government during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I understand the feelings of the victims and their families, and I am deeply sorry for the pain and the loss and the suffering of those victims and their families,” the former PM and Conservative Party leader said.
Johnson has been accused by other witnesses in the inquiry of being in favor of allowing elderly people to die, of failing to act quickly enough during the early stages of the pandemic and for downplaying the severity of Covid-19.
The UK government ordered the country to go into lockdown on Mar. 23, 2020, more than a month after the first outbreak in Europe, which came in Italy.
While he admitted that there were “unquestionably” things that his government “could have done differently”, Johnson said it was not clear that the virus, which in January and February 2020 was a mere “cloud on the horizon” – would grow into a “typhoon.”
He has also been criticized for not taking enough measures to protect nursing homes, and for presiding over a “toxic” atmosphere at Downing Street.
Johnson was forced to resign in July 2022 amid a series of scandals that centered around illegal parties and gatherings at 10 Downing Street while the UK was under strict lockdown.
The former PM also clashed with lawyer Hugo Keith over excess deaths in the country during the pandemic. Apart from Italy, the UK had the biggest increase in mortality during Covid in Western Europe, significantly above France, Germany and Spain.
Johnson said that the UK’s “extremely elderly population” and high population density were factors behind the higher death rate, but admitted that he “does not know” if decisions taken by his government affected the mortality rate.
Outside the courtroom in London, the families of the Covid victims demonstrated. A legal team representing them will also have the opportunity to question Johnson during his two-day appearance.
Aamer Anwar, lead lawyer for the Scottish Victims’ Families Group, said that “instead of resolving a national crisis, (Johnson’s) government presided over a total disgusting orgy of narcissism.”
“For many of the Covid bereaved, the evidence heard at this inquiry so far has exposed a deadly culture of impunity, of incompetence, of arrogance and blaming everyone else but themselves,” Anwar told reporters.
“He did let the bodies pile up, and the elderly were treated as toxic waste,” he added. EFE