Jo Goodman on a new group set up to hold the government to account for its handling of the Covid pandemic
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group was set up by Matt Fowler and Jo Goodman, both of whom lost their fathers who had contracted the virus prior to lockdown. They felt that if the government had taken different decisions and truly ‘followed the science’ that their fathers would still be here. The group has now grown to more than 900 members, all personally bereaved, and is supported by Elkan Abrahamson, who previously represented Hillsborough families. The group aims to achieve accountability for mistakes that have been made, but more prominently to ensure that the government’s approach to the next phase of the pandemic utilises learning from the first wave to prevent further needless loss of life.
The group is calling for an immediate public inquiry to scrutinise government decision-making and look at how the government can most effectively address the pandemic and prevent a second wave. They say: “the first duty of any government is to protect its people. In the case of our relatives who lost their lives, it has failed to do so. We seek justice for the bereaved and to protect the people of the UK in the future.”
Update – 29/7/20
Having written to the prime minister on multiple occasions asking him to meet with the group, there’s now been confirmation that he will not engage with us. We have now notified him that we will be taking out judicial review proceedings in order to prove their obligation to initiate an inquiry. We have a great legal team supporting us on this on a pro bono basis, including one of the country’s top QCs and the Hillsborough legal team. However, we can’t get the case to court unless we can protect the group from being chased for the government’s hefty legal costs in the event that we lose. As such we’d be hugely grateful of anything you’re able to contribute to the group’s crowdfunding efforts at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/CovidInquiryNow.
Stuart Goodman was a press photographer who worked on Fleet Street for over 25 years. Having moved to Norfolk in the early nineties he went on to teach photography in adult education and oversee a number of community projects, as well as being an activist for the Labour Party. Just before he passed away, Stuart published his first book, One Saturday in 82 on Broadway Market, featuring photos from the then dilapidated street market in Hackney which he had lived on and successfully campaigned to save from demolition.