Boris Johnson visited the Covid Memorial Wall in secret in the evening to ‘dodge meeting bereaved families’ as campaigners blast the PM for going ‘under cover of darkness’
- Boris Johnson visited Covid Memorial Wall in central London on Tuesday night
- Campaigners accused the PM of trying to ‘dodge’ meeting bereaved families
- But Downing Street denied the accusation and said it was a ‘private visit’
Downing Street today rejected claims Boris Johnson visited the Covid Memorial Wall in central London in secret in the evening to ‘dodge’ meeting bereaved families.
The Prime Minister went to the memorial located next to the River Thames in Westminster on Tuesday night.
Campaigners accused the PM of visiting ‘under cover of darkness’ as they blasted him for failing to respond to a formal invitation to attend the memorial to meet people who have lost loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Number 10 said Mr Johnson had undertaken a ‘private visit’ in order to hold a moment of ‘quiet reflection’.
Boris Johnson, pictured today during a visit to school in Marylebone, London, went to the Covid Memorial Wall on Tuesday evening
Campaigners accused the PM of visiting ‘under cover of darkness’ in order to ‘dodge’ meeting bereaved families
Mr Johnson’s visit was not announced to the press ahead of time and no cameras were present.
Asked if he had timed the visit to avoid meeting bereaved families, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘No. He went Tuesday evening. This was a private visit.
‘As many others have done the Prime Minister visited the Covid Memorial Wall in private for quiet reflection.’
The memorial wall, located opposite Parliament on the south bank of the River Thames, consists of more than 150,000 individually hand-painted hearts representing every person who has died with Covid-19 listed on their death certificate.
It was coordinated by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group which is pushing for an independent and judge-led inquiry into the crisis.
The campaign group is considering legal action against the Government as it demands ministers set a date for the probe.
Co-founder Matt Fowler said: ‘For weeks we’ve asked him to come to the wall and meet bereaved families. He’s refused to even acknowledge our request.
‘Then, the day after it’s revealed he said he’d let “bodies pile high”, he makes a late evening visit under cover of darkness, just so that he can dodge meeting bereaved families.
‘This is a cynical and insincere move that is deeply hurtful. Our invitation for him to walk the wall with families who’ve lost loved ones is still open, and we await a response.’
Mr Johnson has repeatedly denied saying he would rather let ‘bodies pile high’ than impose a third coronavirus lockdown.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, visited the memorial earlier this month and said the time for an independent probe into the Government’s handling of the pandemic ‘must be coming close’
A Number 10 spokeswoman said: ‘The Prime Minister offers his deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one during this very difficult pandemic.
‘On Tuesday the Prime Minister visited the Covid Memorial Wall in private for quiet reflection.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, visited the memorial wall earlier this month and said the time for an independent probe into the Government’s handling of the pandemic ‘must be coming close’.
He said a formal investigation into the handling of the pandemic should focus on ‘lessons to be learned’ and that it should be ‘very independent’ and ‘very wide-ranging’.
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