Sir Patrick Vallance reveals ‘brain dump’ private diaries as he appears before UK Covid-19 inquiry

20 November 2023, 11:37

Sir Patrick Vallance has said a journal he kept during the pandemic was a way to 'decompress'.
Sir Patrick Vallance has said a journal he kept during the pandemic was a way to 'decompress'. Picture: Covid Inquiry

By Jenny Medlicott

Diary entries written during the pandemic were a way to ‘maintain inner calm’ and ‘decompress at the end of the day’, Sir Patrick Vallance has told the Covid Inquiry.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

It comes after it emerged earlier in the inquiry that Sir Patrick, the government's former chief scientific adviser, had privately been writing a journal throughout the pandemic response.

In his opening witness statement on Monday, Sir Patrick told the inquiry that his diary entries were a way to “maintain some form of inner calm, protect my mental health and keep my family out of the pressures I faced”.

Sir Patrick has prepared a 200-page witness statement for Monday’s hearing.

Questioned by Andrew O’Connor KC, the former scientific adviser said he had “no intention” of ever publishing the entries.

“These were a way of decompressing at the end of the day,” he told the inquiry. “Often quite late in the evening”.

The notes were provided to the inquiry after a disclosure request - Sir Patrick provided the entries in full despite them containing “sensitive, personal” information.

“Some of it I look back and think 'well that seems like a sensible series of reflections over that period,” he continued. But some, however, he said contradict each other.

“Others I look back and I can see I might have written something one day and then two days later written something that said, 'actually I don't agree with myself on that', which may have been how somebody had behaved or somebody made an observation.

Read more: Lockdown rules were confusing and £10,000 fines disproportionate, Priti Patel tells Covid Inquiry

Read more: Boris Johnson was told to sack Matt Hancock to 'save lives and protect the NHS', Covid Inquiry hears

Sir Patrick Vallance's pandemic diary entries will be read out at the inquiry on Monday.
Sir Patrick Vallance's pandemic diary entries will be read out at the inquiry on Monday. Picture: Alamy

"So they were very much instant thoughts."

Some 25 extracts have been read out to the inquiry so far.

Among them, Sir Patrick accuses officials of “cherry picking’ scientific advice and ministers of using scientists as “human shields”.

He also criticises Boris Johnson’s decision-making, branding him “all over the place” and criticising his “ridiculous flip-flopping”.

"The right wing press are culpable and we have a weak, indecisive PM," he wrote in October 2020.

Mr O’Connor asked Sir Patrick if he thinks his former role should be held by someone with a medical background, given the inevitability of another pandemic.

Sir Patrick said the role is not “set up primarily for pandemic preparedness, it is set up to provide science advise across Government”.

“The great crisis that all Governments face for the next many decades is the climate challenge, so it would be equally well-argued that you could have somebody who has that expertise,” he added.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Nepal Same Sex Marriage

Nepalese gay couple becomes first to officially register same-sex marriage

Katy Ashworth

Former TV presenter Katy Ashworth 'verbally and physically' abused by ex-partner, High Court hears

Nottingham City Council has a £23m gap in funds

Nottingham City Council declares itself 'bankrupt' with £23m funding gap

Eric Dupond-Moretti

Court clears France’s justice minister of conflict of interest

Rishi Sunak does not believe Brexit is "in peril"

Rishi Sunak does not believe Brexit is 'in peril' despite calls from EU chief Ursula von der Leyen for it to be reversed


Wolverines set for US government protection amid climate change threat

Kfir Bibas and his family were taken hostage

Fears for hostage baby Kfir Bibas after Hamas say he was killed in airstrike, as Israel investigate claims

Omid Scobie has said the names of those at the centre of the royal race row could come out

Omid Scobie threatens to name royals at centre of racism storm amid growing row over incendiary Endgame claims

Greggs is opening a 'fine-dining bistro'

Greggs to open 'fine-dining bistro', with menu taking old favourites to 'new culinary heights' in 'Paris-inspired space'

Sajid Javid said he quit because of Dominic Cummings' behaviour

Dominic Cummings was seeking to 'act as the Prime Minister in all but name', Covid inquiry hears

Ada Sagi was released by Hamas on Tuesday.

'It's such a huge relief': London man tells of 'joy' as mum is freed by Hamas

Javier Milei

Argentina’s president-elect announces choice for economy minister

More than 4,000 children were treated for head injuries sustained during sport over the last year.

Alarming rise in children's sports head injuries prompts calls for improved safety measures amid long-term effects warnings

Keir Starmer hit out at Rishi Sunak over cancelling the meeting with the Greek Prime Minister amid an Elgin Marbles row

Starmer slams Sunak for 'trying to humiliate' Greek PM over Elgin Marbles row as he accuses him of 'small politics'

Marcia Grant was killed on her own driveway

Boy aged 13 who ran over and killed woman with her own car receives two-year sentence

GoFundMe set up for 'heroic' crane driver.

'Buy Glen a drink': GoFundMe page set up to reward hero crane driver who rescued trapped colleague reaches £6,000