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Bereaved families say PM has ‘spent months ignoring and lying to us’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, to attend Prime Minister’s Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday May 25, 2022.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, to attend Prime Minister’s Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday May 25, 2022.

Bereaved families have accused Boris Johnson of spending months “ignoring and lying” to them.

The campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said the Prime Minister has treated them like “dirt” and “an inconvenience”.

The group’s statement came as Mr Johnson faced fresh demands to resign after Sue Gray’s report said the public would be “dismayed” by a series of breaches of coronavirus rules in No 10 and Westminster.

Her inquiry findings include that Mr Johnson brought the cheese and wine to the garden gathering on May 15 2020 from his own flat.

She found that former proprietary and ethics chief Helen MacNamara provided a karaoke machine for a Cabinet Office gathering where one individual was sick and there was a “minor altercation” between two others.

She also said there were “multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff” during the events, which was “unacceptable”.

Lobby Akinnola, a spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, whose father Olufemi Akinnola died with coronavirus in April 2020 aged 60, said: “There we have it. Whilst the country had one of the highest death rates in the world from Covid-19, they were celebrating over cheese and wine and drinking themselves sick over a karaoke machine.

“When they refused to learn lessons and allowed the virus to run riot in the second wave, killing more people than it had in the first, they instead prioritised secret Santa.

“When they were texting colleagues about getting away with it, we were having to text our families telling them they couldn’t come to their loved ones’ funerals.

“The messages in the report show they knew how disrespectful they were being to the families they were failing, but that didn’t bother them.

“Not content with partying whilst he failed to protect our loved ones, the Prime Minister has now spent months ignoring and lying to us.

“He has treated us like they treated their cleaning staff and security who challenged their law-breaking at the time: like we’re an inconvenience, like we’re dirt.

“The Tory MPs that have kept him in power are no better.

“They should know that just as we will never forget being apart from those closest to us whilst they passed away, or having to hold miserable funerals with only a handful of people, millions will never forgive them for the disrespect they’ve shown.”

Joshua Murray-Nevill’s grandmother died with coronavirus on December 17 2020, the day of three separate gatherings that Sue Gray’s report investigated.

The 35-year-old PR manager from Sussex told PA that the Prime Minister should resign.

“In my own view, a Prime Minister who breaks the law, and makes false statements to Parliament – needs, for the country’s sake, to resign. I’m angry for my family”, Mr Murray-Nevill said.

“(The report) points to the senior leadership (let’s be honest the PM and the Cabinet Office) leading a culture that ignored the outside world and, whilst they worked long hours, still broke the rules and clearly had a fun old time doing so.”

He said: “Reading snippets like there being a karaoke machine, broken swings, fights, I mean, it reads like we’re dealing with people who still think they’re students, or at least wish they were back at university.”

He added: “Watching loved ones die was deeply painful and not just numbers on a weekly graph.

“They might want to all move on but the country has just been through a two-year trauma we’re seemingly supposed to all forget, particularly the choices and behaviour of our Government.”