Bereaved families express ‘hurt’ at PM’s visit to Covid memorial wall under the cover of darkness

Boris Johnson’s visit comes after allegations that the PM commented “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” in a lockdown-related meeting last year.

The Prime Minister is facing criticism over a private visit to the new Covid memorial wall after ignoring invitations from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group to walk the wall alongside them.

Boris Johnson was spotted at the wall on Tuesday night (28 April), a week after bereaved families publicly invited the PM to meet with them at the tribute.

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The memorial, on the Thames Embankment in London, consists of around 150,000 individual hearts to commemorate the lives of those lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

Each heart on the memorial wall "represents someone who was loved. Someone who was lost too soon to Covid-19", say the bereaved families group.

It was organised by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, with work beginning on Monday, March 29.

Matt Fowler, co-founder of the group, expressed his dismay at the Prime Minister’s actions.

"Boris Johnson visited the National Covid Memorial Wall late Tuesday evening. For weeks we’ve asked him to come to the wall and meet bereaved families. He’s refused to even acknowledge our request”, he said.

“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”, he added.

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The PM has denied allegations that he commented he would rather “let the bodies pile high” than order a third lockdown in a meeting last year.

Last year, the Prime Minister faced criticism after backtracking on a pledge to meet with families who had lost a loved one to coronavirus.

In September, he doubled down on the refusal, claiming the group were in litigation against the government to bring forward an independent inquiry into their handling of the pandemic.

The bereaved families group continue to call for a statutory public inquiry with an “initial rapid review phase, in order to inform the Government’s ongoing response to the pandemic.”

They also want to see increased bereavement support services for those dealing with complex grief.

The invitation for Johnson to walk the wall with bereaved families remains open, says Fowler. “We await a response”, he added.