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Covid bereaved families furious after being blocked from Tory conference

The Covid-19 Families for Justice group, which represents around 3,000 grieving families, applied six weeks ago for the event in Manchester but have been told they cannot attend

The Covid memorial wall in London

Campaigning Covid bereaved families have been blocked from lobbying MPs at Tory conference.

Covid-19 Families for Justice have been given no explanation for why their bid to attend Conservative conference in Manchester next month was rejected, but warn the ruling party “it’s basic decency to talk to us”.

The group, which represents some 3,000 families, applied some six weeks ago for the annual event, regularly attended by trades unions, campaigns groups and business groups.

An email sent from the Conservative Party chairman’s office told Families for Justice the party does “not comment on the reasons behind an individual’s of group’s unsuccessful conference application”.

Lobby Akinnola, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said: “We’re shocked and frustrated by this, and the question we’re left is asking is “what are the Conservative party management afraid of?”

Boris Johnson in Manchester during the last Tory conference, visiting a hospital


WPA Pool)

We had hoped to attend party conferences, so that MP’s from all sides could hear our stories and work with us to learn lessons and stop more families from experiencing the same tragedies that we have. Ultimately, we all have the same goal.

Our members who have very sadly lost loved ones, are from all political backgrounds, including members of the Conservative Party. It defies belief that the Party in Government seems determined to not only ignore us, but have as little contact with us as possible. Being treated like this is deeply upsetting for families who are already in grief.

The hard truth is that over 150,000 people have lost their lives to the virus. And it might be more comfortable for the Conservative Party to pretend that groups like ours don’t exist, but we do and it’s basic decency to talk to us.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged the public inquiry into the government’s botched handling of the pandemic will get underway in spring.

But the group fears it will be delayed much further as power-holders have yet to select a chair for the inquiry or set the hearing’s terms of reference.

No Conservative minister, including Health Secretary Sajid Javid, has yet met with Families for Justice, despite cross-party appeals for them to do so.

The PM had pledged to meet the group in September, but it is not yet clear if that meeting will go ahead.

The group is pushing for a rapid review phase of the inquiry, which would allow the Government to learn from failures on PPE and late lockdowns.

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