FOR the Covid bereaved from the four nations, the UK Inquiry has exposed a toxic culture of impunity, denial, arrogance and privileged men who blame everyone else but themselves.

The bereaved watch Boris Johnson’s evidence begin with the expected apology, but then he heavily caveated it with claims that his government had saved thousands of lives – for many, that was a grotesque distortion of the truth.

Using Boris Johnson’s own WhatsApps, instead of solving a national crisis, his government had presided over a “total disgusting orgy of narcissism”. Johnson was complicit in Rishi Sunak’s “eat out to help out” scheme … or, as referred to by his chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty, “eat out to help the virus”.

On each and every occasion as the virus spread at a deadly exponential rate across European borders, he failed to shut the borders to millions – and he didn’t follow the science.

Instead, this wannabe Winston Churchill ran away and hid for 10 days in March, refusing to return to Downing Street.

The National: Screen grab from the UK Covid-19 Inquiry live stream of former prime minister Boris Johnson giving evidence at Dorland House in London, during its second investigation (Module 2) exploring core UK decision-making and political governance. Issue date:

He offered little to no explanation as to why his chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance accused him of “being obsessed with older people accepting their fate”, of wanting to let “the virus rip” or saying, “yes, there will be more casualties but so be it – they’ve had a good innings”.

He offered yet another empty apology, this time for Partygate, but his No 10 postcode had more fixed open penalties than any other during the pandemic. This hypocrite pushed for increased enforcement with fines of up to £10,000, but in evidence could not resist claiming that what happened in Downing Street was “a million miles from the reality of what actually happened”, describing it as a “travesty of truth”.

Nobody forced Johnson to party in the most heavily policed street in the UK, with his minions nipping in and out with suitcases full of booze. Johnson turned our care homes into “killing grounds” for the elderly, treating them as “toxic waste”, he left millions of frontline workers risking their lives without adequate PPE, and as his team partied, many could not be with loved ones in their dying moments.

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While many sections of the media have been baying for “gladiatorial moments”, in the past week, they have subjected a robust and fearless inquiry team to increasingly desperate personal attacks, but what Johnson’s tabloid “attack dogs” failed to understand is that in every question placed before Johnson, we already have the answer. The mountains of emails, WhatsApps, documents, reports but more importantly the records of his closest advisers who called out his catastrophic handling of the pandemic – in the end, that is the evidence that her ladyship, Baroness Hallett, will have to focus on in deciding credibility and the burden of proof.

The reason why the WhatsApps were so important is that they strip away the façade of democracy, displaying the total contempt these men had for democracy, for women, for the ordinary people they were meant to serve, the elderly, war heroes, doctors, nurses, care workers, ambulance drivers, police officers, the sick, vulnerable, minorities, front-line workers and the poor. Johnson claims he got the “big calls” right, but in the biggest life-saving decisions, he delayed, dithered and sided with death and “let the bodies pile up”.

The only moment Johnson actually revealed some true passion in evidence was not for the dead, but when he banged the table, gesticulating his horror at the impact of falling bonds and the market on the nation.

While Johnson wanted to dismiss the toxicity of the WhatsApps as part of the “creative process”, there was one message that stood out, in a group that BJ was part of, where not one male bothered to challenge the violent and misogynistic language used against Helen MacNamara, deputy cabinet secretary, by Dominic Cummings. He wanted to “personally handcuff her and escort her from the building. We cannot keep dealing with this horrific meltdown of the British state while dodging stilettos from that C**T.”

This former PM had the cheek to talk about the confusing messages of the devolved administrations – more specifically Scotland – but he was the one who introduced “work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home”, and never bothered to tell anyone in devolved nations that “Stay Home” was being changed to the nonsensical “Stay Alert”. We learned that he was worried about the “Scots going soft” and that then first minister Nicola Sturgeon wanted “totemic cancellations” of mass gatherings. His government organised Potemkin meetings, but in reality, the secret meetings where real decisions were made froze out the devolved governments and the metro mayors.

The UK death rate exploded because he dithered and squandered every opportunity to save lives – for many of the bereaved, he is guilty of criminal negligence, but is unlikely ever to see a criminal trial. He didn’t protect the NHS, it was already on its knees from almost a decade of Tory austerity, and along with golden-boy Sunak to protect the markets, they gambled with the lives of millions, by delaying lockdowns, opposing circuit breakers and causing catastrophic economic damage.

They didn’t just kill thousands unnecessarily, but tens of thousands. More than 232,112 people lost their lives in the UK to Covid and by March 2022 a total of 13,429 lost their lives to Covid in Scotland. Each of those deaths not only represents an individual tragedy, but has affected the friends and family, the loved ones, of each of those who died.

Many of the bereaved were left shaken and angered by Johnson, but he let his contemptuous mask slip right at the end.

When thanked by the chair (as she does each witness), he laughed and said he was sorry it was all over. As I said at the start of this inquiry, no institution, no individual, no government, whether it be Scottish or UK, can stand in the way of the truth. The dead cannot speak for themselves, but the bereaved will for them, and the very least they deserve is the truth. Tomorrow, we return to question Rishi Sunak, and in January, it will be the turn of the Scottish Government.

Aamer Anwar is the lead solicitor for Scottish Covid Bereaved