Boris Johnson faces legal challenge over UK’s covid death toll – ‘We need accountability’
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Boris Johnson held a coronavirus press conference last night, where he confirmed the UK death toll had surpassed 100,000. In response to the grim statistic, former chief CPS prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE said he believes the Prime Minister could face prosecution over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Following yesterday’s press conference, Mr Afzal wrote on Twitter: “PM takes full responsibility for all decisions Govt have made.
“We cannot wait 10yrs for public inquiry.
“I have instructed my lawyers to consider whether anything he did or didn’t do amounts to gross negligence or misconduct in public office & what consequences should follow.”
The former prosecutor, who is now a national adviser to the Welsh Government, said an inquiry into the handling of the pandemic will not go far enough and he fears such a probe won’t be carried out until a decade has passed.
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Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, he said: “Things have clearly gone wrong and they have gone wrong at the top.
“There will be a public enquiry but it will be 10 years down the line.
“And what will it tell us? Nothing that we don’t know.
“We need accountability now and that’s why I’ve instructed lawyers to look at whether or not some decisions that have been taken actually accelerated death, that put people in the firing line.
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“For example, hundreds of NHS staff have lost their lives, their lives were taken because they weren’t prepared – we weren’t prepared as a country.
“There needs to be accountability. I’ve lived my life delivering justice and I want to do that again.”
Misconduct in public office is a common law offence which is only prosecutable on indictment.
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The Attorney General gave the following definition in 2003: “The offence is committed when: a public officer acting as such; wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself; to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder; without reasonable excuse or justification.”
Mr Afzal was the chief CFS prosecutor in the north west.
His brother Umar died from COVID-19 last April and since then he has become increasingly vocal on the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
In the summer, Mr Afzal wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick about Dominic Cummings’ controversial trip to Barnard Castle during the first national lockdown.
In July, Mr Johnson committed to an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.
He said now wasn’t the right time to launch an investigation but said one would take place in the future so lessons could be learned.
Speaking in the Commons on July 15, the Prime Minister said: “Of course we will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened.”
The spokesman for the CPS said they had “nothing to add”, while a Welsh Government spokesman told Express.co.uk: “Nazir Afzal advises the Welsh Government solely in relation to Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. We have no comment to make on any issues Mr Afzal pursues outside this context.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Mr Afzal on whether he is looking into a private prosecution or a civil case against the UK Government or Prime Minister in person.
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