A HUMAN rights lawyer has said the UK Government’s “refusal” to cooperate with the People’s Covid Inquiry reinforces the Tories' “disingenuous approach and incompetence” towards the Covid pandemic.

The inquiry, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, released its preliminary findings yesterday and stated that the estimated 150,000 people who have died from coronavirus in the UK were “needless” and as a result of “incompetence”.

It found the Tory’s “lack of action” at the start of the pandemic led to the UK’s high death toll, finding that “the Government ignored the pandemic to begin with”.

The independent inquiry, launched by campaign group Keep Our NHS, also called for potential prosecution of any minister of official found to have breached human rights law or committed “grossly incompetent acts” during the pandemic.

READ MORE: MPs vote against calls for ‘immediate’ UK Government Covid-19 inquiry

It recommended that the UK Government apologise and compensate the families of those whose “death, injury or loss of livelihood have ensued from unlawful activities”.

In its findings it states: “The deaths of 150,000 people, most of whom died needlessly, have been the result of incompetence; and disrespect and arrogance prevented the government from meeting bereaved families. Timings of lockdowns and failure to put in place travel restrictions and quarantine contributed significantly to accelerating the spread of COVID.”

The investigation added that the UK went into the pandemic disadvantaged by an already run down NHS.

It states: “The inquiry heard how government policy that imposed savage reductions on the NHS, primary care, social care, and as you have heard, on public health, for over a decade in the name of austerity, led to a crippled health and social care system, in no state to cope with even the workload of normal times, let alone a pandemic.”

The report also claims that “procurement failed due to a culture of cronyism”, adding that “There has been grotesque financial wastage, profiteering and unmonitored, even unlawful procurement.”

Mansfield said: "Despite clear and unfettered invitations, the Government has steadfastly refused to engage with the Peoples Covid Inquiry.

“This behaviour is entirely consistent with the unanimous findings by the inquiry of incompetence and malpractice.

“In turn, our findings about its disingenuous approach and incompetence has been reinforced by a letter from the Cabinet Office which could provide no details about the long-promised Judicial Inquiry which is needed now."

The letter, seen by The National, states: “The Government has always been clear that there will be opportunities to look back, analyse, reflect and to learn lessons on all aspects of Covid-19 - and that this would include an independent inquiry at the appropriate time.

“On 12 May, the Prime Minister confirmed that a public inquiry would be established on a statutory basis - with full formal powers - and that it will begin its work in spring 2022.”

READ MORE: 'Epidemiological stupidity': WHO's warning over letting Covid cases surge

It adds that a chair and terms of reference for an inquiry will be set out in “due course”.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by data and scientific advice and have acted quickly and decisively to save lives and livelihoods.

“Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.

“As the Prime Minister said, we have committed to holding a full public inquiry as soon as is reasonably possible.”

The full findings of the People's Covid Inquiry are set to be released in the autumn.