Michael Gove apologises to bereaved families for government mistakes during Covid

28 November 2023, 10:41 | Updated: 28 November 2023, 11:27

Michael Gove giving evidence to the Covid Inquiry
Michael Gove giving evidence to the Covid Inquiry. Picture: Getty

By StephenRigley

Michael Gove has apologised to bereaved families over Government mistakes during Covid. 

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Mr Gove told the Inquiry the Government’s decision making process was floored as the pandemic emerged.

He said: “I want to take this opportunity, if I may, my Lady to apologise to the victims who endured similar pain, the families who endured so much loss as a result of the mistakes that were made by Government in response to the pandemic, and as a minister responsible for the Cabinet Office and who was also close to many of the decisions that were made, I must take my share of responsibility for that.

"Politicians are human beings, we're fallible, we make mistakes and we make errors... But I also want to stress that I - and those with whom I worked - were also seeking at every point, in circumstances where every decision was difficult and every course was was bad, to make those."

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove, formerly the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, arrives to give evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry
Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove, formerly the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, arrives to give evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Sadiq Khan tells Covid Inquiry 'lives could have been saved' had he been invited to Cobra meetings earlier

Read More: UK government was 'too late' to act in first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chris Whitty admits

Mr Gove was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Cabinet Office throughout the pandemic.

During the pandemic, Mr Gove chaired meetings of the Covid O (Covid Operations) committee, which made key decisions on lockdown restrictions.

The Tory Cabinet minister said the Government was not effective in responding to crises because of its "flawed" structure. He compared the Cabinet Office to "Mary Poppins' bag" where Prime Minister's dump difficult issues.

Mr Gove, now the Levelling Up Secretary, said he was charged by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson with leading ‘no deal’ Brexit planning before being given the task of intergovernmental relations.

The Inquiry has already heard damning evidence that the Cabinet Office in early 2020 was “dysfunctional” and “chaotic”, and ill-prepared for coping with the coming crisis.

“There has been a tendency among successive Prime Ministers to shove into the Cabinet Office responsibilities that do not appear to fit conveniently or easily elsewhere”, said Mr Gove.

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