Sunak thought Government should ‘just let people die’, Covid Inquiry hears

Rishi Sunak thought the Government should “just let people die” as arguments raged over a second lockdown, the Covid Inquiry was told.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the then chief scientific adviser, made a note in his diary on Oct 25 2020 about a meeting in which Boris Johnson argued for “letting it all rip” and Mr Sunak, who was chancellor at the time, agreed, according to the entry.

Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser until Nov 2020, told the Oct 25 meeting: “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s OK.”

Sir Patrick said he did not personally hear Mr Sunak express such an opinion, but told the Inquiry: “That’s what Dominic Cummings said.”

It represents the most serious accusation levelled at Mr Sunak, now Prime Minister, at the inquiry to date.

Sir Patrick described the meeting on a Sunday as “shambolic”. It was held against a backdrop of rising Covid cases and demands to introduce a second lockdown to replace the existing tiers system. Mr Johnson was “getting very frustrated” and declared he was in possession of “necrotising maps”, a reference to areas of the country where people were most likely to die, Sir Patrick said.

Sir Patrick’s diary entry read:

Downing Street declined to comment on Monday.

05:10 PM GMT

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05:01 PM GMT

Johnson would not hear plans for failure

The Covid-19 Inquiry heard that in August 2020 Boris Johnson did not want to hear about plans for failure, and just wanted children back to school in September without Covid being used as an “excuse”.

On August 6, 2020, Sir Patrick Vallance wrote in his notebook: “PM Covid (S) meeting on schools.

‘Don’t want to hear about plan B and C for failure. I just want pupils back at school’ [...] ‘We are no longer taking this Covid excuse stuff. Get back to school’.”

04:40 PM GMT

No 10 will not say if scientists were consulted over Eat Out to Help Out

No 10 would not be drawn on whether the Prime Minister had consulted scientists on the transmission risk of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme before announcing it.

The Downing Street official said a number of people will be setting out their views of the period, but “rather than respond to each one in piecemeal, it’s right that it is looked at alongside other evidence”.

04:30 PM GMT

Sage wanted to exempt children from the Rule of Six

Sage wanted to exempt children from the “Rule of Six” during the pandemic, the Covid Inquiry heard, but the idea was pushed back by the chief scientific adviser and the Government.

In a diary entry from October 15 2020, Sir Patrick wrote: “Sage pushing for ‘Can’t we exempt children from rule of 6’.  We said no, not unless CO (Cabinet Office) want to revisit.”

The rule, which limited the number of people who could gather in one place, was criticised at the time by the Children’s Commissioner who said it effectively kept large households in lockdown.

Scotland and Wales included an exemption for children under 12, but the UK Government refused to implement a similar exemption in England until April 2021.

The Telegraph previously revealed in messages from the Lockdown Files that the Government knew there was no “robust rationale” for including children in the rule, but backed the policy regardless.

04:21 PM GMT

Downing Street will not say if Sunak said 'just let people die'

Downing Street declined to say whether Rishi Sunak thought it would be okay to “just let people die” during the pandemic, saying it would be for the Prime Minister to set out his position during evidence before the Covid Inquiry.

“The Prime Minister is due to give evidence before the inquiry at the time of their choosing. That’s when he’ll set out his position,” Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said.

No 10 would not be drawn on whether the PM had consulted scientists on the transmission risk of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme before announcing it.

The Downing Street official said a number of people will be setting out their views of the period, but “rather than respond to each one in piecemeal, it’s right that it is looked at alongside other evidence”.

04:19 PM GMT

Cabinet ministers were 'meek as mice' said Sir Patrick

Sir Patrick Vallance described Cabinet ministers as “meek as mice” and accused them of an “abrogation of responsibility” for not imposing recommended restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the autumn of 2020.

In an entry in his personal notes dated October 11 2020, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser welcomed being dropped from a press conference in favour of then chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Sir Patrick said: “Good. They need to understand and own the decisions they’re making ... being asked to approve the measures, knowing that it’s not enough, gave the example that Bolton worked, but only because hospitality fully closed.

“This is a massive abrogation of responsibility.”

He then references various Cabinet ministers at the time, with Grant Shapps and Ben Wallace described as having “got it” in backing tighter restrictions.

Sir Patrick later adds: “While waiting someone clearly not on mute - baby crying and then she starts singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ - somehow symbolic of the shambles.”

He then writes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the current package of measures are unlikely to reduce infections.

Sir Patrick adds: “[Then health secretary Matt] Hancock says this is our last shot at avoiding national lockdown... meek as mice Cabinet members.”

03:53 PM GMT

'Shambles' Cabinet Zoom call was interrupted by nursery rhyme

Sir Patrick said a woman singing Wheels on the Bus to her baby during a Cabinet meeting held on a video call was “symbolic of the shambles” in Government.

His summary of the chaotic Zoom call came as he referred to Cabinet ministers as “meek as mice”.

In a diary entry on October 11 2020, the former chief scientific adviser wrote: “Cabinet call. Whilst waiting someone clearly not on mute - baby crying and then she starts singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ - somehow symbolic of the shambles.

“PM said on call, ‘The package we have as a baseline is unlikely to get R < 1 unless local leaders go further ... Hancock says this is our last shot at avoiding national lockdown...meek as mice from Cabinet ministers.”

03:23 PM GMT

Boris Johnson was 'sceptical' about long Covid

Boris Johnson did not think long Covid was a big problem during the pandemic, according to former chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance.

Sir Patrick was asked at the Covid-19 Inquiry whether the issue of long Covid “actually had any impact in terms of policymaking”.

He said: “I think he (Boris Johnson) didn’t really think it was a big, big problem. I mean, he recognised it, because we described three different long-term consequences.

“There was the post-intensive care syndrome that some people get, that’s a well-recognised problem. There was organ damage that some people got from Covid. That’s a very well-recognised clear problem.

“Then as long Covid, which was much more ill-defined, and I think he was, as it says here, he was sceptical about that. I don’t think was keen to take that into account for policymaking.”

03:16 PM GMT

Sir Patrick Vallance's full diary on Rishi Sunak 'let people die' claim

Sir Patrick’s full diary from Oct 25 2020 read:

PM meeting - begins to argue for letting it all rip. Saying yes, there will be more casualties but so be it - they have had a good innings. Not persuaded by Edmunds, Ferguson, Farrar. PM says “the population just has to behave doesn’t it! Heat maps “I have the necrotising maps” so depressing. DC says trajectory will leave us in Nov - much as where we were in 1st week of April. Chris quite bullish about being able to take the brakes off more in April....

Goes on about Gulf War Syndrome again [.] PM getting very frustrated - throwing papers down. PM then back on to ‘Most people who die have reached their time anyway.’ DC arguing we need to save lives - it is not democratically possible to follow another 238-240 route... [...] DC argued again (rightly) that a lockdown’s coming and therefore do it sooner rather than later. PM concludes, ‘Looks like we are in a really tough spot, a complete shambles. I really don’t want to do another national lockdown.’

PM told that if he wants to go down this route of letting go, ‘you need to tell people - you need to tell them you are going to allow people to die’ [...] Conclusion - beef up the Tiers - consider a national lockdown - decide by when. DC says ‘Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s okay.’ This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”

03:09 PM GMT

Rishi Sunak thought it OK to 'just let people die', inquiry told

Rishi Sunak thought it was OK to “just let people die,” the Covid inquiry has heard.

Sir Patrick Vallance recorded in his diary a ‘shambolic’ meeting with Boris Johnson and senior advisers on October 25 2020 where they discussed an impending lockdown.

At the meeting Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, was recorded telling the group: “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s okay’, according to an entry in Sir Patrick’s notebook. At the time Mr Sunak was Chancellor and was pressing to keep the economy open.

In his notebook, Sir Patrick said Mr Johnson “begins to argue for letting it all rip. Saying yes there will be more casualties but so be it - ‘they have had a good innings.”

Sir Patrick also noted Mr Johnson “getting very frustrated” and “throwing papers down”.

Sir Patrick concluded: “This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”

Asked at the inquiry if that was an accurate reflection of Mr Sunak’s views, Sir Patrick replied: “That is what Dominic Cummings said.”

03:02 PM GMT

Britain did not lock down hard enough, says Vallance

Patrick Vallance has told the Covid-19 inquiry that in the first wave of the pandemic, Britain did not go “hard” enough with lockdown measures.

In his witness statement to the inquiry, he wrote: “The most important lesson that I learned and stated repeatedly from the first lockdown onwards, in respect to the timing of interventions, was that you had to go earlier than you would like, harder than you would like and broader than you would like.”

Explaining what he meant, Sir Patrick said: “As I mentioned, in the first wave I think we didn’t go early enough and there was a trickling of measures when I think we should have gone with more measures simultaneously.”

He added: “So my rider that it’s ‘than you would like to’ is very clear, and that is because the observation I made was that everyone’s instinct is to not to do any of these things.

“It’s to delay just a bit too much, it’s to argue that the measures shouldn’t be quite as strict at the moment - and we saw this very clearly during October, where every MP argued that their areas shouldn’t be in a higher tier, they should be in a lower tier.

“So, everyone’s arguing to do things just a little bit less than they should do.”

02:59 PM GMT

Matt Hancock 'had a habit' of baseless claims

Sir Patrick said Matt Hancock had a habit of saying things “too enthusiastically” and without the evidence to back them up.

He also claimed that the former health secretary said things that were not true while working in No 10 during the pandemic.

I think he had a habit of saying things which he didn’t have a basis for,” Sir Patrick told the inquiry, “and even saying things too enthusiastically, too early, without the evidence to back them up, and then having to backtrack days later.”

In another diary entry after a meeting which included talk about Long Covid in September 2020, Sir Patrick wrote that Matt Hancock had “explained things well for once”.

02:46 PM GMT

What it was like at the Number 10 press conferences

Sir Patrick said he “wouldn’t have lost any sleep” if he had been dropped from the Downing Street televised press conferences.

The former chief scientific adviser was asked about the many times he addressed the public about the virus alongside ministers including Boris Johnson in 2020 and 2021.

He told the inquiry that it would have been “helpful” to have had others speaking at press conferences as well as scientific experts, such as economists or NHS leaders, to “make sure that the operational side was properly covered”.

He also said it was unhelpful when questions became “policy driven” or “political” during such conferences, as it “lends a sort of credibility to a policy that you might not agree with”.

Sir Patrick told the inquiry: “If somebody said to me, ‘don’t worry, you don’t need to cover any more press conferences’, I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it.”

02:25 PM GMT

Scientific advice 'unduly weighted' over economy

Undue weight was given to scientific advice over economic guidance because of a lack of transparency over Treasury modelling, Sir Patrick said.

Critics of lockdowns have said that not enough consideration was given to the long-term economic impact of shutting down the country, and the effect on healthcare that an economic downturn would cause.

Sir Patrick said:

I did think there was a lack of transparency on the economic side and it was difficult to know exactly what modelling had been done...that made it very difficult, and of course it wasn’t publicly available either, and that created I think an imbalance where the science advice was there for everybody to see, the economic advice wasn’t, and it wasn’t obvious what it was based upon, and it therefore unduly weighted the science advice in the public mind, I think, and created a real problem in terms of how decisions could be made.

Sir Patrick said he had suggested an economic advice group similar to Sage should be set up, but this did not happen to the best of his knowledge.

02:11 PM GMT

Rishi Sunak denies scientists pushed back over Eat Out to Help Out

Rishi Sunak denied that there was any pushback from scientists over his Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

A witness statement from Mr Sunak, who was chancellor at the time, was shown to the Covid-19 inquiry on Monday.

It said: “I don’t recall any concerns about the scheme being expressed during ministerial discussions”, including those attended by chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty and then-chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance.

“Giving evidence to the probe, Sir Patrick said: “We didn’t see it before it was announced and I think others in the Cabinet Office also said they didn’t see it before it was formulated as policy. So we weren’t involved in the run up to it.”

“He added: “I think it would have been very obvious to anyone that this inevitably would cause an increase in transmission risk, and I think that would have been known by ministers.”

When asked about Mr Sunak’s understanding of the risks, Sir Patrick said: “If he was in the meetings, I can’t recall which meetings he was in. But I’d be very surprised if any minister didn’t understand that these openings carried risk.”

02:06 PM GMT

The hearing is now resuming

The Covid inquiry is back up and running after the lunch break.

01:08 PM GMT

The inquiry has broken for lunch

We’ll be back with live updates at 2pm when Sir Patrick Vallance’s hearing resumes.

01:01 PM GMT

Awkward moment left Boris Johnson embarrassed

Rishi Sunak said the Covid pandemic was about “handling the scientists, not handling the virus”, during a meeting in which he didn’t realise Sir Chris Whitty was present.

Sir Patrick wrote in a diary entry in early July 2020: “In economics meeting earlier in the day they didn’t realise CMO was there and Cx said, ‘It is all about handling the scientists, not handling the virus.’

“They then got flustered when CMO chipped in later and they realised he had been there all along.

“PM blustered and waffled for 5 mins to cover his embarrassment.”

12:52 PM GMT

Johnson 'gave up science when he was 15'

On the difficulty of discussing science with Boris Johnson when he was Prime Minister, Sir Patrick told the inquiry: “I think I’m right in saying that the prime minister at the time gave up science when he was 15 and I think he’d be the first to admit it wasn’t his forte and that he did struggle with some of the concepts and that we did need to repeat them often.”

But he said there was not “a unique inability” on the part of Mr Johnson as many other countries’ scientific advisors were having similar problems explaining concepts to politicians, but “it was hard work sometimes”.

12:50 PM GMT

Boris Johnson 'bamboozled' by science

Boris Johnson was “bamboozled” by the graphs and data presented to him by scientists during the pandemic, the Covid-19 Inquiry has heard.

Diary entries by former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance were shown to the probe on Monday.

One entry from May 4 2020 said: “Late afternoon meeting with the PM on schools. My God, this is complicated. Models will not provide the answer. PM is clearly bamboozled.”

Others, also written in May 2020, said: “PM asking whether we’ve overdone it on the lethality of this disease. He swings between optimism, pessimism, and then this.

“PM still confused on different types of test. He holds us in his head for a session and then it goes.”

In June, Sir Patrick wrote: “Watching the PM get his head round stats is awful. He finds relative and absolute risk almost impossible to understand.”

12:36 PM GMT

Boris Johnson asked if Britain was 'licked as a species'

Boris Johnson wondered out loud if Britain was “licked as a species” ahead of plunging the UK into another lockdown, Robert Mendick writes.

Sir Patrick Vallance disclosed details of five hours of meetings with the prime minister in late September 2020 at which Mr Johnson also said the UK “are too s***“ to avoid a fresh lockdown.

Sir Patrick wrote that the Prime Minister was “clutching at straws” in the meeting.

In his diary entry of September 20, Sir Patrick wrote:

5 hr of meetings with the PM. He came back from Battle of Britain memorial service and was distressed by seeing everyone separated and in masks - ‘mad and spooky, we have got to end it.’ Starts challenging numbers and questioning whether they really translate into deaths. Says it is not exponential etc etc. Looked broken - head in hands a lot. “Is it because of the great libertarian nation we are that it spreads so much.”

‘Maybe we are licked as a species’... ‘We are too s*** to get out act together.’ We went round in circles and then the famous whiteboard emerges. Discussed Package A (mild in measures) and package C (full lockdown) and when and how to do a circuit breaker... eventually sort of agree circuit-breaker and stricter measures... but PM keeps clutching at straws.

12:29 PM GMT

Boris Johnson asked if scientific graphs were a 'mirage'

Boris Johnson asked if graphs presented at a meeting were a “mirage”, prompting “incredulity” from those attending, Sir Patrick said.

The former chief scientific adviser said the prime minister had to be “managed” in the meeting, and asked himself: “is it always like this?”

Sir Patrick wrote in one diary entry in September 2020: “Chief Constables have said current rules too complex and difficult to police. PM looking glum. Then suddenly - ‘Is the 144 whole thing a mirage? The curves just follow a natural pattern despite what you do’ Incredulity in the room [...]

“The whole meeting carefully manages the PM (is it always like this?) and he eventually approves the measures - really just reinforcing and enforcing what we should be doing anyway.

“MDC says “we don’t want any unrealistic Hancockian timetables.” [...] I leave and comment again that PM does not look like a man enjoying his role. CMO still keeps offering a slightly slower path (I think this is wrong and said it).”

12:27 PM GMT

'Following the science' was 'completely wrong'

The term “following the science” was used to hide behind and was damaging to the pandemic response, Sir Patrick said.

“I think that the way in which is both heard, and possibly meant, in terms of slavishly following the science and obeying it at all times, is completely wrong,” he told the inquiry.

“The repeated assertion undermined the importance of ministerial judgement, and the accountability of ministers for decisions,” Sir Patrick said.

He added that the pandemic was often posited as a scientific problem and people “hid behind this at times”.

12:09 PM GMT

Official 'incandescent with rage' at Sir Patrick Vallance

Sir Chirs Wormald, the permanent secretary to the Department for Health, was “incandescent with rage” and reprimanded Sir Patrick for suggesting on March 16, 2020 that contact needed to be reduced by 75 per cent to stop the spread of the virus.

Sir Patrick suggested this in a ministerial meeting, the inquiry heard, and Sir Chris thought the suggestion should have gone through “proper process” beforehand.

“He said it was the manner of raising it in the meeting rather than the substance that he was concerned about, and that I had thrown it into a ministerial meeting whereas it should have gone through due process.

“I stand by the fact that I think it was the right thing to say at the time.”

11:56 AM GMT

Sir Chris Whitty was more lockdown-sceptic than Sir Patrick

Sir Patrick revealed he was more in favour of pushing for lockdown to go ahead at the start of the pandemic compared with Sir Chris Whitty, who was concerned about its adverse effects.

He said the Government’s chief medical officer was concerned that there would be “more than just the issue of the direct cause of death from the virus, that there would be indirect causes of death due to the effects on the NHS.

Sir Chris was also worried about mental health impacts and loneliness, as well as the “long term consequences due to the economic impacts creating poverty”.

“He was definitely of the view that the treatment and the result of that treatment needs to be considered together. And that pulling the trigger to do things too early could lead to adverse consequences,” he said.

“I didn’t have exactly the same worry. I was more on the side of we need to move on this. But I think that’s partly why the two of us found it useful to work together,” Sir Patrick added.

11:54 AM GMT

Sunak's concern about locking down London

Rishi Sunak was unhappy with Sir Patrick Vallance’s call to lockdown London at a crucial meeting in mid-March at the start of the pandemic, Robert Mendick writes.

Sir Patrick told the inquiry: “Quite right he [Sunak] was concerned about the economy because London was the engine of the economy and that was a massive decision to take. “

At the time Mr Sunak was Chancellor.

11:52 AM GMT

'Palpable tension' with Sir Chris Whitty

There was a “palpable tension” between Sir Patrick and Sir Chris Whitty in early 2020 because of the “absence of political leadership” in No 10, the inquiry heard.

The inquiry heard that Boris Johnson’s lack of leadership led to tensions between the Chief Scientific Adviser and the Chief Medical Officer  at the start of the pandemic.

The hearing was shown an extract from the memoir of Jeremy Farrar, who was a member of SAGE during the pandemic, which read: “That friction, between waiting and wading in, led to a palpable tension between Patrick and Chris in the early weeks of 2020, particularly given the apparent absence of political leadership in that period.

“Boris Johnson, the prime minister, did not attend the first five COBR meetings on coronavirus in January and February 2020.”

11:35 AM GMT

Response to 'flattening the curve' not effective

Sir Patrick Vallance has told the Covid inquiry he was concerned over the Government’s “operational response” to limiting the spread of Covid-19 during the pandemic’s early months.

Asked about discussions in February 2020 about measures to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, Sir Patrick said then-prime minister Boris Johnson had begun to consider lockdown options.

He said: “There was lots of evidence that there were things that needed to happen in order to achieve suppressing the curve.

“I’m not convinced that there was a very effective operational response to that.”

11:28 AM GMT

'Helpful' to have NHS capacity figure

“It would have been helpful” to have a number for the NHS’s capacity in the early stages of the pandemic in February 2020, Sir Parick said.

“We asked several times to try and define a number and nobody would give that number,” he told the inquiry.

“I do think it’s a very difficult question to answer but mathematically it’s rather useful to have.”

He added that is was difficult to get access to “precise numbers” on ICU beds and occupancy of other high dependency beds in the NHS.

A meeting was set up for early March between NHS experts, the modellers and others to “resolve this logjam”.

11:24 AM GMT

January to March 2020: 'Nobody would give number' on NHS capacity

We now turn to the early period of the pandemic between January and March 2020.

On the Government’s repeated ambition for the NHS not to be overwhelmed, Sir Patrick said: “No minister defined a cut-off point for the number of infections or deaths other than by reference to avoiding the NHS being overwhelmed.”

He added: “We asked several times to try and define a number and nobody would give that number.”

He said modellers had “great difficulty getting clarity” on this from ministers and it was “mathematically very difficult” as a result.

11:08 AM GMT

Climate is scientific advisor's next 'challenge'

Sir Patrick Vallance stressed at the start of his evidence that “there will be, at some point, another pandemic” inevitably.

But later asked if he thinks the chief scientific advisor role ought to have a medical background, Sir Patrick says the role is not “set up primarily for pandemic preparedness, it is set up to provide science advise across Government.”

He added: “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 said the chief scientific advisor should be appointed for general, not specific, expertise and it is “not a policy or operational role”.

10:57 AM GMT

Civil Service fast stream's lack of STEM degrees

Sir Patrick expressed concern that only one in ten people in the civil service had science backgrounds.

Only ten per cent of the individuals hired through the civil service’s graduate programme had STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) degrees, he said.

This was “striking” and led to the creation of a target for half of the civil service ‘fast stream’ to have STEM backgrounds by 2024.

Sir Patrick said it “destined the civil service to stay in roughly the same position that it has been for some time”.

He said this skewed recruitment posed problems for how science was raised and considered in the civil service.

“Ninety per cent was arts, humanities, social science degrees and only 10 per cent was a STEM degree,” Sir Patrick said.

He added: “It means that the routine consideration of science in policy formulation was not where it needed to be.”

It formed part of the “science capability review”, an exercise conducted with Jeremy Heywood, the then Cabinet Secretary, to see if science capability was “adequate” in Government.

10:49 AM GMT

Sir Patrick's nightly diary to 'decompress'

Sir Patrick said he jotted his thoughts down in his nightly diary as a means of protecting his mental health, the inquiry heard.

He wrote in his witness statement that his diary entries, which have been handed to the inquiry, were intended to “maintain some form of inner calm, protect my mental health and keep my family out of the pressures I faced”.

He also told the inquiry that he had “no intention” of them ever being published.

“These were a way of decompressing at the end of the day” and “often quite late in the evening”, he said, adding that they had “no purpose other than that”.

10:43 AM GMT

'Personal, threatening and abusive' commentary

Sir Patrick Vallance said in his witness statement to the Covid Inquiry that he received “personal, threatening and abusive” commentary towards he and his family during the pandemic, Blathnaid Corless writes.

In his third witness statement submitted to the inquiry, he said he was asked to comment on “attacks on scientists from press, public and politicians.”

He said science advisers “faced significant public scrutiny throughout the pandemic response.

“This came from a number of sources, including by way of both social and traditional media. Some of that scrutiny and commentary was highly critical, and some crossed the line and became personal, threatening and abusive, including towards me and my family.”

10:42 AM GMT

Sir Patrick Vallance now giving evidence

You can watch the live feed at the top of this page and follow updates in this blog.

10:31 AM GMT

Recap: Patrick Vallance’s pandemic diary reveals maddening disregard for science

It emerged earlier in the inquiry that the Government’s former chief scientific adviser was quietly writing a journal during the pandemic.

Early excerpts suggest it will make for deeply uncomfortable – if scintillating – reading upon being published, with the phrase “quite extraordinary” appearing frequently in relation to dubious government decisions.

In one sentence, he wrote: “Some person has completely rewritten the science advice!”

“They’ve just cherry picked,” he grumbled. “Quite extraordinary.”

Sir Patrick was referring to the two-metre rule, which in the summer of 2020 was causing a headache for Number 10.

Read more about his diary extracts here

10:07 AM GMT

Good morning

Welcome to our live blog for Monday’s Covid inquiry hearings.

Sir Patrick Vallance, one of the most recognisable faces of the UK’s Covid-19 response, is giving evidence at 10.30am, and again this afternoon at 2pm.

Stay here for the latest updates as they happen.

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