The very names of those who committed crimes against humanity are being redacted from vital documents before being released to the public.
The long-awaited Covid Inquiry is being delayed whilst Whitehall combes through thousands of documents to redact the names and details of thousands of its civil servants, including the names of low-ranking officials who were said to be 'not in decision-making roles' during the pandemic, but are likely to include key people responsible for the worst medical crime in British history.
Inquiry Chairman Baroness Heather Hallett was also asked to consider postponing the public inquiry by up to four weeks to allow lawyers more time to get through the paperwork. Documents put before an inquiry are shown to participants in advance – a process known as disclosure – which allows time for them to be read before the hearing.
However, Hugo Keith, KC, counsel for the inquiry, said that in this case ‘literally thousands of manual reductions’ were taking place.
Pete Weatherby, KC, counsel for the Covid Bereaved Families for Justice group, said redacting civil names prior to disclosure was slowing the process down. The human rights barrister called on the inquiry’s legal team to leave removal of such details until after disclosure had taken place. He told the hearing he was ‘unaware of any other inquiry’ where such redactions took place before disclosure. Observers have said that the high profile names contained within the documents are the real reason for the urgency.
Mr Weatherby, who has previously represented families during the Hillsborough and Grenfell inquiries, added: ‘It is apparent that this issue, this redaction of the names of junior staff, is taking up a disproportionate and substantial amount of time of his [Mr Keith’s] team and the knock-on effect is it is seriously impeding the disclosure of other material to core participants.’
It is not uncommon for large-scale public probes to take years to complete.
However, critics have already dismissed the inquiry suggesting that it will be a whitewash, pointing to the fact that they are not investigating the World Health Organisation, Pharmaceuticals companies, or deaths from the Vaccine.
The Times reports that The WHO have 'refused' to write a statement for the UK's Inquiry at all. At the same preliminary hearing it emerged that the United Nations agency, which declared the pandemic, and instructed the response, said it was “unable” to provide any documentation.