Further to our update yesterday in which we discussed the newly published Terms of Reference for the Covid-19 Inquiry, these Terms of Reference have now been posted on the Inquiry website, alongside terms of reference for the public consultation and a letter to the public from the Chair. A number of new pages have also been added to the website.

The terms of reference for the consultation and the FAQs on the website set out how the process will run:

The Inquiry is seeking views on the following:

  • Do the Inquiry’s draft Terms of Reference cover all the areas that you think should be addressed by the Inquiry?
  • Which issues or topics do you think the Inquiry should look at first?
  • Do you think the Inquiry should set a planned end-date for its public hearings, so as to help ensure timely findings and recommendations?
  • How should the Inquiry be designed and run to ensure that bereaved people or those who have suffered harm or hardship as a result of the pandemic have their voices heard?

Public consultation on the draft terms of reference will take the following three forms:

  • Open consultation. There is now an online survey available to participate in. For those that cannot use the website, there is a freepost address.
  • Roundtable discussions. A series of roundtable discussions with key organisations and representative groups will be held across the UK. The terms of reference state that participation in these round table discussions will be by invite only.
  • Meetings with bereaved families.

The consultation will close on 7 April 2022 at 23:59.

The Inquiry will publish a summary of the consultation responses when it shares its recommended Terms of Reference with the Prime Minister.

Additionally, the Chair’s letter states that:

  • The Inquiry team should be ready to begin investigations once the Terms of Reference have been agreed. They will gather evidence throughout the year and, it is hoped, begin public hearings in 2023.
  • Once the Inquiry has officially started, there will be a chance for people to share their experiences of the pandemic. Further details will be shared “in the weeks and months to come”.

Clearly, there is a lot to digest here. Organisations will need to consider their responses to the consultation in good time to develop their thinking and to submit clear, targeted responses. Others will already have been contacted by the Inquiry team to schedule round table discussions and will be working up their objectives in advance of the those meetings.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your organisation’s needs.