The Tortoise Covid Inquiry: Day Three

About this ThinkIn

Over three days in November and December, Tortoise will convene a series of investigations of the key moments and decisions in a nine-month effort to control the virus that by any reasonable standard or comparison has failed. The question is: why?

The case for a public inquiry into the UK’s response to the Covid pandemic is clear and urgent. Clear, because over 44,000 people have died and Britain’s excess death rate is higher than for any comparable advanced economy. Urgent, because the longer it is delayed the more scope those responsible will have to varnish the record, and the more inclined a weary public may be to let them.

A full inquiry and a fearless reckoning are essential – to learn lessons, save lives and for the sake of justice – and yet it isn’t happening. The government’s position is that the appropriate time will come, and it will tell us when. But the stakes are too high to leave the timing to the witnesses, and too high to wait.

So we’ve decided to hold an inquiry ourselves. Our evidence collection has already begun and will continue with a call for submissions from members, the public and other interested parties over the next six weeks.

How to take part: as an observer or a witness

The Tortoise Covid Inquiry is open to members of Tortoise and specially invited guests. Inquiry sessions will feel rather different from usual Tortoise ThinkIns. The sessions will include statements from invited witnesses, along with introductory comments from legal professionals. The Chat function will be open as normal.

If you are interested in contributing as a witness at any of the Inquiry sessions, please let us know using the booking form or by emailing and we will be in touch.

Day Three sessions include:

The Prime Minister: Months of mixed messages and local lockdowns left the country bewildered. We are living in the Disunited Kingdom – where even Boris got the rules wrong at one point. Is the Prime Minister asleep at the wheel – or is he still ill?

The NHS – part 2: Covid-19 isn’t the only killer in town. Thousands of patients have missed cancer screenings and checkups during the crisis and mental health issues have escalated. Is there a silent secondary pandemic waiting in the wings for the NHS?

Did the media fail?: There was much posturing at press conferences – but in the end the headlines were mostly the same.What went wrong with the media’s coronavirus coverage – and how could we have done better

Women – ignored, dismissed, neglected: Men were more likely to die from Covid-19, but women had experienced disproportionate economic, social and psychological impacts. Mothers were nearly 50 per cent more likely to have lost or resigned from their jobs than fathers. Not to mention a horrifying rise in domestic abuse. Has the British government failed women?

The healthcare industry – did it move quick enough? : From vaccines to test and trace, did the healthcare industry respond adequately to the biggest public healthcare crisis of our lifetime? And how much should we fear vaccine refuseniks?