How bad is the Sue Gray report for Boris Johnson? – our panel’s verdict | The panel

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Devi Sridhar: Our leaders took advantage of people’s goodwill

In an extraordinary time for humanity, a once-in-a-century event, people were asked to make sacrifices to limit the spread of a new, dangerous virus and to take care of others in their community – especially elderly people and those with health issues. “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” we were told on a daily basis by Boris Johnson and his ministers. People were not allowed to attend the funerals of loved ones, women gave birth alone, and thousands of people died of Covid-19 in hospital with no one other than healthcare workers in PPE. It was a traumatic and sad time for the country.

This is the context in which to read Sue Gray’s report, which outlines how many social gatherings took place at No 10 (with approval of the leadership) which were not in line with current Covid guidance. The text and photos make for difficult reading because of the contrast between parties and celebrations in No 10, and the trauma and tragedy going on in hospitals and communities around the country.

We choose who leads us. We need leadership that is for the people, and that understands the sacrifices that normal Britons made day in and day out, not leadership that takes advantage of our goodwill.

Moya Lothian-McLean: The lack of consequences demonstrate Britain’s deep inequalities

In her long-awaited report, Sue Gray writes that it is senior leadership who must “bear responsibility” for the lockdown breaches that took place. But they won’t. In his time as prime minister, Boris Johnson and his allies have intensified an already-existing boy’s club culture in the halls of power, to the point of being Bullingdon-esque. Those at the top are Teflon. Junior officials have borne the brunt of police fines, for attending events “condoned” by their bosses.

Meanwhile, thousands of fines and convictions were handed out to people across the country in a policing effort that was disproportionate, arbitrary and discriminatory. Unlike those in Downing Street, there were no special “questionnaires” for ordinary people regarding alleged breaches for them to complete at leisure, just on-the-spot fines and maybe a day in court if they dissented. Young, minority ethnic men in England and Wales were twice as likely to receive a fixed penalty notice, and single justice procedures meant thousands of people who were prosecuted did not have access to a fair trial, even as it was found that police forces were misinterpreting and unlawfully enforcing vague lockdown legislation.

In a just world, all Covid-related prosecutions would be dropped and fines refunded in light of Gray’s findings. But this isn’t a just world; it’s Boris Johnson’s England – and we’re all trapped in it.

Lobby Akinnola of Covid 19 Bereaved Families for Justice: The government has shown hideous disdain for the rest of us

Now that the Gray report has arrived, no one can claim to be in any doubt about the prime minister’s moral character, and the culture in Downing street throughout the pandemic. The only question left is how much longer he will be allowed to insult the British people by continuing as prime minister.

Politicians will argue over facts and fines, but the truth speaks to common sense: the prime minister and his aides broke the rules they created, and lied about it. They believed that as long as the majority of people followed the rules, they wouldn’t need to. They were wrong. It took one person to give Covid to my dad, and it took only one person to die for my whole world to be eclipsed. While the UK had one of the worst Covid death rates in the world, they partied and congratulated themselves on getting away with it.

We have been systematically lied to by the government at the time when we needed and deserved to have total trust in our leader. Just as his rule-breaking put the health of the nation at risk, his casual lawbreaking could jeopardise our national response in future crises.

The Gray report, for my family and families like mine, is not political. It is hideous proof of the disdain the government held for our loved ones far from Westminster, and for us, who bore the brunt of Covid and anti-Covid restrictions. It is proof that, had I been in a seat of power, I could have broken the rules to be with my dad before he died, and got away with it.

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