Background to the Inquiry
On 1 March 2020 the first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Scotland. By 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation had classified the COVID-19 pandemic as a global pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on every aspect of the lives of people living in Scotland. People have legitimate questions about how the pandemic was handled. The Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry has been established to provide answers.
On 14 December 2021 the Deputy First Minister announced that the Honourable Lady Poole would chair the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry were also published, after a period of consultation. The official set up date for the inquiry was 28 February 2022.
On 27 October 2022, the Deputy First Minister announced that the Honourable Lord Brailsford would chair the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry following the resignation of Lady Poole for personal reasons on 30 September 2022.
Inquiry Aims & Objectives
The Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry will investigate aspects of the devolved strategic response to the pandemic. Its investigation will be in the fields of health, education and support set out in the Terms of Reference. The Inquiry will work independently and in an open and transparent manner. It will report on lessons learned, both positive and negative, so they are retained for the future. The Inquiry will provide a factual record of key elements of the strategic handling of the pandemic, and it will make recommendations, based on the lessons learned.
The Inquiry has powers to compel witnesses to appear before it and people to produce documents. It is right and proper that the Inquiry makes best use of the information and resources available to it and considers all relevant material provided to it which is within the scope of the published Terms of Reference. The Inquiry will only make findings that are based on that material.
The Role of the Inquiry Chair
The Chair is responsible for discharging the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and decides its procedures, subject to a statutory duty to act fairly and with regard to the need to avoid unnecessary cost. The Chair supervises the running of the Inquiry and will write its reports, making findings about lessons learned and recommendations for the future. The Chair cannot make any findings of civil or criminal liability, nor can he award any compensation.
As Chair of the Inquiry, Lord Brailsford acts in an independent capacity, including being independent of the Scottish Government.