There is still no explanation as to why the judge chairman Lady Poole, the lead counsel Douglas Ross KC and three other lawyers have all quit the public inquiry into the handling of Covid in Scotland. This is an astonishing event. The inquiry currently is not happening. But nobody in the media seems particularly to care.
Word being put around the Edinburgh establishment is that there is nothing to report, it is nothing to do with remit or evidence, just about terms of service and the length of the inquiry. But that really does not wash. If the inquiry has collapsed over such issues, either the Scottish government has starved it of resources or the lawyers have behaved disgracefully and unprofessionally, abandoning an important public responsibility midway.
Either way, this cannot simply be shrugged off as nothing. And that is assuming it is true that there is no dispute over substance.
On that substance, obvious mistakes were made – such as the release of patients with covid back into care homes – but plainly they were not malicious. What was extremely malicious was the profiteering – for example over PPE, and Pfizer’s price maximisation on their vaccine. But these are outside the scope of this inquiry. I do not know why.
As regular readers know, I have avoided commenting much on covid on the grounds of lack of expertise. My instincts are libertarian – I would have concentrated more on enabling robust (but voluntary) shielding of the vulnerable rather than locking down healthy young people at low risk. Some things made no logical sense at all – like closing the universities when the schools were open. But I do not share the radical opinions many people genuinely hold, both for and against the lockdowns.
One major issue I have not resolved in my own mind is whether covid-19 was a natural development or an escape from a laboratory of a man made variant. The problem is that the experts best able to determine this are of course themselves in this research industry, which could be at fault in inflicting enormous human suffering.
If it were determined that covid-19 were human engineered, the backlash would result in massive closure of labs and defunding of the industry. I therefore don’t expect the scientists to tell us that any time soon.
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