MPs demand answers from Dido Harding over secretive body driving local lockdowns

In a letter addressed to Baroness Harding, the chair of the science and technology committee, Greg Clark, demanded details of “the structure of scientific advice” within the JBC as well as “publication of the names of scientific advisers and whether the advice and relevant meeting minutes from the JBC will be published in a timely manner”.

A government spokesman said NHS Test and Trace would respond to the committee within its deadline, set to expire at midnight on October 12.

At the peak of the pandemic in April, Boris Johnson committed the Government to “maximum transparency” after mounting pressure forced ministers to release names of the scientists advising the Sage advisory committee, and regular details of their advice.

In July, Matt Hancock confirmed that Sage would be downgraded, with the JBC taking over the UK’s coronavirus response because the virus was a “semi-permanent” problem rather than an emergency.

A note considered by Sage on May 20 recommended that the JBC “should pursue a reputation as an organisation that the public can trust. This will require them to be an exemplar in terms of honesty, openness, competence and independence.

“These principles should be embedded into every level of the organisation and demonstrated to the public from day one.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: ““We will respond to the science and technology committee by the deadline of the 12 October.

“We have always sought to be as clear and transparent as possible, publishing a wide range of data and evidence about how the virus is spreading across the UK.”

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