Fri, 19 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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My family stuck by the rules when my dad died – why couldn’t Boris Johnson?

3 min read

After weeks of build-up, this week’s “update” from Sue Gray would have felt like an anti-climax to some. But the redactions didn’t make it any less painful for me, or families like mine that have lost loved ones to the pandemic.

Reading the Sue Gray report brought back all the pain, sadness and misery of losing my dad in April 2020 and not being able to be at his side as he passed away.

My wonderful dad, Michael, became ill with Covid-19 one day before lockdown began. He was a healthy, active 73-year-old, who didn’t let age stop him from doing the things he loved: working, ferrying around grandchildren, playing golf, chatting with people. He had a wicked sense of humour and a heart of gold - he couldn’t do enough for others.

Had the lockdown been announced just a week earlier, he might still be with us today.

He believed that if he followed the government’s guidelines, he would be safe. When he became ill, the 111 service severely let him down - it seemed that their policy was to keep people at home - he was desperately ill and needed hospital care. Had he been admitted earlier, he may have survived - we’ll never know. He spent two weeks on a ventilator and died of multiple organ failure due to Covid-19 in April.

I think about my dad every day. It will never be any less painful to think about those working in 10 Downing Street, who were supposed to protect him, breaking their own laws regularly and blatantly.

Every day this is dragged out longer, the harder it becomes for those of us who couldn’t be with their loved ones in their dying moments

Even with the details of the parties left out, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than the same one as Sue Gray. That whilst the British Public rose to the challenge and made enormous sacrifices to protect their loved ones and their communities, those at 10 Downing Street failed.

My family stuck by the rules, even when it meant I couldn’t be there to comfort my dad when he passed away. I can’t tell you how hard it was to not be at my mum’s side to comfort her in the months afterwards. But at least we can look ourselves in the mirror and say that we did everything we could to protect others. That’s something those working in 10 Downing St can never do.

There are now 12 different parties the police are investigating, including one the Prime Minister allegedly attended in his private flat and one on his birthday. He has lost all credibility. If the worst were to happen and we were to face a vaccine resistant strain in the future, and another lockdown was necessary to save lives, people would just laugh at him. Boris Johnson is a walking public health hazard and if he had any decency, he would do the right thing and resign.

Instead, every day this is dragged out longer, the harder it becomes for those of us who couldn’t be with their loved ones in their dying moments. The Conservative MPs that are keeping him in power are pouring salt in the wounds of those of us who have already suffered so much. They must act to remove the Prime Minister and are disgracing this country by failing to do so.


Rivka Gottlieb is a spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

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