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Bereaved family members call Johnson’s apology at Covid inquiry ‘meaningless’

Sisters (left) Jane Basham and (right) Sandra Basham, the latter of whom died of Covid in January 2021 (Jane Basham/PA)
Sisters (left) Jane Basham and (right) Sandra Basham, the latter of whom died of Covid in January 2021 (Jane Basham/PA)

Family members of people who died during the pandemic have criticised Boris Johnson after he admitted his government “underestimated” the threat of coronavirus.

Appearing at the Covid-19 Inquiry in London on Wednesday, Mr Johnson apologised for “the pain and the loss and the suffering of the Covid victims” but said he was “not sure” whether Government decision-making had led to “materially” a larger number of excess deaths.

Jane Basham, 61, whose sister Sandra died in January 2021 after contracting coronavirus, branded Mr Johnson’s apology “meaningless”, adding she held him responsible for her sibling’s death aged 61.

Sandra Basham had been caring for older people in their homes near Dartford, Kent, during the pandemic before she was admitted to hospital, with Ms Basham adding her family did not see her because they were taking the virus seriously.

Ms Basham, of Ipswich, Suffolk, said: “His apology is meaningless to me, and many of us who are bereaved.

“If Boris Johnson was truly sorry then he would have delivered a public inquiry when it was first requested and not forced a group of traumatised bereaved relatives to have to fight for it.

“He would have shown humility and met the bereaved families who stand outside the inquiry every day rather than scuttling in before dawn.”

She added: “We didn’t know it then, but Sandra was doomed from the moment he dragged his heels on the second lockdown – he knew precisely how serious it was by then so there’s no excuses.”

“He ignored the science, showing utter disregard for people’s lives.”

“I hold him responsible for Sandra’s death.”

Mert Dogus, 21, whose father died of Covid, told PA that Mr Johnson “should be giving answers for some of his actions” at the Covid inquiry.

His father, cab driver Haci Ali Dogus, 49, died in March 2020, leaving behind his wife and two sons.

Woman in purple jacket stands by a rive
Sandra Basham had been providing care to older people in their homes near Dartford in Kent before she caught Covid in hospital (Jane Basham/PA)

In response to Mr Johnson’s apology for the “suffering of the Covid victims”, Mr Dogus, a student at Brunel University London, said “I’m not surprised, he kind of owes it.

“Obviously, he was in control of the country at the time, so naturally, he should be apologising for those who are lost.”

Mr Dogus said Mr Johnson “should be giving answers for some of his actions” and it is “good for us to see his reasoning behind” decisions that Mr Johnson’s government took during the Covid pandemic.

In response Mr Johnson said at the inquiry that he was “not sure” whether Government decision-making had led to “materially” a larger number of excess deaths as a result of the pandemic, Mr Dogus said: “He can’t really say that.”

He said: “Boris waited, and he waited and waited and then obviously it spread a lot more and then it turned into this huge thing.”

“If you caught it whilst it was early, I think it wouldn’t have been as bad.”

Mr Dogus added that prohibited gatherings by Mr Johnson and government and Conservative Party staff during the Covid-19 pandemic was “a slap in the face to all of us, who have obviously lost members of our families”.