Ex-PM Johnson Apologises To UK Covid Victims' Families But Defends Record

Ex-PM Johnson apologises to UK Covid victims' families but defends record

London, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 7th Dec, 2023) Boris Johnson apologised Wednesday for "the pain and the loss and the suffering" caused by the Covid-19 pandemic but defended his government at a public inquiry into its handling of the crisis.

The former British prime minister, who has faced a barrage of criticism from former aides for alleged indecisiveness and a lack of scientific understanding during the pandemic, began two gruelling days in the witness box.

Johnson -- forced from office last year over lockdown-breaching parties held in Downing Street during the pandemic -- accepted "mistakes" had "unquestionably" been made but repeatedly insisted he and officials did their "level best".

"I understand the feeling of the victims and their families and I'm deeply sorry for the pain and the loss and the suffering to those victims and their families," Johnson said.

"Inevitably we got some things wrong," he added, noting he took personal responsibility for all the decisions made. "At the time I felt... we were doing our best in very difficult circumstances."

The former premier arrived around three hours early for the proceedings, with some suggesting he was eager to avoid relatives of the Covid bereaved, who gathered outside later in the morning.

As he started giving evidence, four women were evicted from the inquiry room after holding up signs stating "the dead can't hear your apologies".

Nearly 130,000 people died with Covid in the UK by mid-July 2021, one of the worst official per capita tolls among Western nations.

Critics have blamed Johnson's government for a slow, erratic and dysfunctional response.