On Wednesday, Birmingham Erdington MP Jack Dromey accompanied members of the Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group in visiting the National Covid Memorial Wall, urging the Government to launch a UK-wide statutory inquiry into its handling of the pandemic
The National Covid Memorial Wall, with its endless line of hand-drawn red hearts, has engulfed the wall opposite Parliament since March as bereaved families visited the site to add messages for their loved ones. It has since become a place for people to come together, to reflect on the tragedy of the huge loss of life, and to begin the process of healing and pain alleviation.
Mr Dromey visited the site with Bereaved Families for Justice members, including Jane Roche from Castle Vale, Birmingham, whose father Vincent Pettitt died of Covid last year – and whose sister, Jocelyn, also died from Covid, just five days later. He joined calls for an independent public inquiry into the Government’s management of the pandemic to be held before the end of the year to offer closure to families who have suffered bereavements across the country. He also called for the Prime Minister to meet the families this month.
He believes the Government is wrong in claiming that launching an inquiry this year would distract from the urgent work of managing the crisis. He believes that, with more than 150,000 deaths recorded from COVID-19, the UK experience of the pandemic demands investigation, and that a public inquiry is the right way to deliver accountability and learn lessons, including fixing the systemic weaknesses that have hampered the UK response.
Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington, said:
“This site of remembrance, developed and created by bereaved families, is a powerful reminder of the human cost of the pandemic.
“While the collective sharing of experiences is so important, it is only through a proper public inquiry can we uncover the truth, deliver accountability, and offer closure to bereaved families.
“While the UK’s vaccine rollout has seen real progress, serious mistakes were made, ranging from delaying the introduction of lockdown measures through to the debacle of the borders policy this spring, when the delta variant first identified in India swept through the country, to the bungled plans for school re-openings. A UK-wide public inquiry to learn the lessons cannot be delayed any longer”.
Speaking before the visit, Jane Roche said:
“Losing my amazing Dad, Vincent Pettitt, and my amazing Sister Jocelyn Pettitt just 5 days apart has been the hardest thing to deal with in my life so far, and I am still grieving and will always grieve for them as they did not die in a natural dignified way with their family around them.
“I need the public inquiry to happen this year. Dragging it out until next year only makes me angry and the grief is made worse by thinking nobody cares about the bereaved and their families. The Government must change tack and bring forward a UK-wide inquiry to ensure lessons are learned, to ensure families get much-needed answers and, most importantly, to ensure that no other family suffers like we did”.