Covid inquiry ‘should report interim findings within a year’

The Scottish Liberal Democrats highlighted previous judicial inquiries which 'dragged on for years'.

Covid inquiry ‘should report interim findings within a year’ iStock

Scotland’s coronavirus inquiry should deliver its interim findings within a year of starting, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Party leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said previous judicial inquiries could “drag on for years” before delivering their conclusion.

The Penrose inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal took seven years to report, while an inquiry into Edinburgh’s trams was set up in 2014 and is still to deliver its final report.

Lady Poole QC will lead Scotland’s independent coronavirus inquiry, which will look at 12 areas around the handling of the pandemic.

She is currently in the process of appointing staff before the inquiry begins to consider evidence.

Cole-Hamilton said: “Scotland needs a ruthless and thorough public inquiry that can go anywhere, speak to anyone and demand answers for all those who have suffered so much over the past two years.

“Unfortunately, we know from past form that these inquiries can drag on for years before reaching a conclusion and time is pressing.

“That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for a commitment to deliver interim inquiry findings within a year.”

He added: “Last time the Scottish Government’s narrow and shallow pandemic exercises failed us badly but this inquiry can provide critical early learning and intelligence for the future.”

When she was announced as the inquiry’s chair in December, Lady Poole said: “The inquiry will work independently to establish the facts in an open and transparent way in order to determine what lessons can be learned for the future.

“There is a great deal to be done in a short space of time.

“I will continue to give considerable thought as to how best to conduct the inquiry to ensure it fully achieves its aims, including a careful and thorough examination of the terms of reference.

“My immediate focus will be on getting the right people in place to support me and establishing the necessary systems, processes and information flows needed to allow the inquiry to function efficiently and deliver as quickly as possible.

“Work has already begun on this.”

She said a website would be set up for the inquiry to provide updates.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While this is a matter for the inquiry, we are confident Lady Poole will strike the right balance between, on the one hand, addressing the wide range of questions that so many people have and, on the other, making sure that the inquiry can be delivered at speed, so that we can learn and benefit from lessons as early as possible.

“The Government is very happy to support her in that endeavour.”

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