London (AP) – Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his handling of COVID-19 on Wednesday at a public inquiry into the pandemic. Johnson acknowledged that the government “got some things wrong” but asserted that they did their best in navigating the crisis.

Initial Reluctance and Fateful Decisions

Johnson faced a two-day questioning under oath by lawyers for the judge-led inquiry. The inquiry focused on his initial reluctance to implement a nationwide lockdown in early 2020 and other crucial decisions made during the pandemic.

Apology for Pain and Suffering

At the beginning of his testimony, Johnson expressed an apology “for the pain and the loss and the suffering of the COVID victims.” Notably, he did not apologize for any of his own actions. As he spoke, four individuals in court held signs stating: “The Dead can’t hear your apologies.” Security staff promptly escorted them out.

Acknowledging Mistakes

While admitting that mistakes were made, Johnson emphasized that they were inevitable given the extraordinary challenges of managing such a severe pandemic. He reiterated, “Inevitably, we got some things wrong. I think we were doing our best at the time.”

Early Arrival to Evade Protest

To avoid a potential protest by relatives of COVID-19 victims, Johnson arrived at the inquiry venue several hours before his scheduled appearance.

Inquiry into UK Government’s Handling of COVID-19 Pandemic

As the inquiry delves into the UK government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the families of those who lost their lives to the virus seek answers and accountability. With over 230,000 casualties in the country, their grief and anguish are palpable. Outside the inquiry’s office building, a group of individuals gather, clutching photographs of their loved ones. A striking banner unfurls across the crowd, bearing the words “Let the bodies pile high,” which an aide attributes to Johnson. Another sign captures the frustration felt by many, proclaiming “Johnson partied while people died.”

The scandal-ridden Johnson faced tumultuous times during his tenure as Prime Minister, leading to his ousting by his own Conservative Party in mid-2022. One of the most significant controversies was the revelation that Johnson and his staff flouted lockdown restrictions by holding parties at the prime minister’s Downing Street offices in both 2020 and 2021.

Throughout the inquiry’s proceedings, former colleagues, aides, and advisers have painted a damning picture of Johnson’s leadership and his government. Patrick Vallance, the former Chief Scientific Adviser, testified that Johnson often appeared bewildered by scientific advice. Vallance’s diaries, presented as evidence, reveal Johnson’s preoccupation with older individuals accepting their fate. Dominic Cummings, a former adviser turned staunch opponent of Johnson, disclosed that the then-prime minister even asked scientists about the potential lethality of blowing a hairdryer up his own nose to kill the virus.

Furthermore, Helen McNamara, a former senior civil servant, shed light on a “toxic” and male-dominated culture within Johnson’s administration. Simon Case, the country’s top civil servant, went so far as to describe Johnson and his inner circle as “basically feral,” illustrating the chaos and lack of order behind closed doors.

The inquiry continues to uncover the truth about the government’s actions during the pandemic, bringing forth revelations that shed light on the scope of the missteps and negligence that occurred. Families with unanswered questions and concerns wait anxiously for the inquiry to provide clarity and hold those responsible accountable.

The COVID-19 Death Toll in the U.K.

The United Kingdom (U.K.) has experienced one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in Europe. This devastating virus has been recorded as the cause of death for more than 232,000 individuals in the country.

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