Michael Gove cut off at Covid inquiry after suggesting virus was man-made | Politics | News

November 28, 2023
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Michael Gove found himself quickly shut down at the Covid inquiry today, after mentioning the virus may have been man-made.

Shortly into his evidence session, the Communities Secretary told the probe that the virus potentially being man-made impacted the Government’s response and judgement.

Asked by the inquiry’s top lawyer Hugo Keith KC whether Mr Gove accepted his trust in the Government and its structures was misplaced, and the country was unprepared, the former Cabinet Office secretary said: “We were not as well-prepared as we should have been, ideally, I think that is true”.

“It’s in the nature of the fact that the virus was novel, and indeed – I think this probably goes beyond the remit of the inquiry – there is a significant body of judgement that believes the virus itself was man-made.”

As Mr Gove continued, saying “that presents a series of challenges as well”, Mr Keith cut him off.

The inquiry lawyer slapped down the Cabinet Minister, warning him to discuss such matters “forms no part of the terms of reference of this inquiry, Mr Gove”.

He added that the issue is “somewhat divisive, so we’re not going to go there”.

The origin of Covid and whether Chinese scientists were involved in its creation continues to be a controversial and divisive debate.

In June this year, the Sunday Times reported that scientists in Wuhan had been working alongside the Chinese military to combine deadly coronaviruses just as the pandemic began.

The respected paper claimed investigators intercepted communications and research from Chinese scientists, “running a covert project of dangerous experiments, which caused a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and started the Covid-19 outbreak”.

The World Health Organisation investigated the theory in 2021, and after 12 days concluded it was “extremely unlikely”.

However scientists criticised the WHO report for not taking the theory seriously enough, dismissing the claim in the first few pages of a several-hundred-page report.

Elsewhere at the Covid inquiry, Mr Gove apologised for the Government’s mistakes during Covid, and to the “victims and families who endured so much loss”.

A text between Mr Gove and Dominic Cummings in March 2020 revealed he believed the Government was “f***ing up” and “missing golden opportunities”.

He warned the Government would “regret it for a long time” if they didn’t take action.

Mr Gove also defenced Matt Hancock, arguing that “too much was asked” of the former Health Secretary’s department at the start of the pandemic.

He conceded the Cabinet Office was not fit for purpose at the start of the outbreak, saying the key department “was not configured appropriately for the crisis of the pandemic”.



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