NHS doctor’s legal bid to force Government to release papers on pandemic preparedness

Dr Qureshi and Mr Greene are requesting that the High Court declares that the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse to disclose the report in full is unlawful.

Dr Qureshi said: “The Health Secretary’s refusal to allow us to learn from a national pandemic exercise – when we are in the midst of a viral pandemic which continues to claim hundreds of lives daily – shows his callous disregard for human life.

“It also shows his disrespect for the NHS professionals who have had to lay their lives on the line blindly, deprived of data which they need to fight Covid-19 effectively.

“It damages our national response to this public health emergency if pandemic data is hidden from the nurses and doctors who are managing this crisis on the ground. 

“We have repeatedly engaged with the Government to make the case for transparency, but unfortunately the Health Secretary has refused to allow us to learn from Cygnus without rhyme or reason. Regretfully, I have therefore been forced to instruct my solicitors to issue legal proceedings against the Government in the national interest.”

Tessa Gregory, a solicitor at law firm Leigh Day said: “My clients are challenging the Health Secretary’s refusal to publish a series of reports relating to Exercise Cygnus.

“They consider that there is an extremely powerful case for publication, in circumstances where the UK Government has repeatedly relied upon Exercise Cygnus to demonstrate that it was prepared for the current pandemic, and where one of the reports has already been leaked.

“Publication is required in order to allow the scientific community, media and public to evaluate and critique the Government’s ongoing response. This is particularly critical given the easing of lockdown and the possibility of further pandemic waves.

“It is difficult to understand why, during this public health emergency, the Government – who have committed themselves to transparency – are spending time and resources defending this claim rather than simply providing the information requested.”

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