Sadiq Khan has accused the government for not keeping him informed during the pandemic and “lives could have been saved,” if he was allowed to attend Cobra meetings.
The Mayor of London told the Covid inquiry that Downing Street rejected multiple requests for him to attend the meetings in early 202.
Khan criticised the government’s lack of communication which was “unusual” as he was not provided with enough information to protect Londoners.
Khan told the Covid inquiry, “The Government generally does give us information about a variety of things happening.
“I’m disappointed the Government weren’t giving us information in February about what they knew then.”
Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer told Khan during a meeting on 11 March 2020 that the virus will develop into a global pandemic and was warned to expect “really serious” consequences within two or three weeks across London.
Khan said, “It was clear from what Chris Whitty was saying that the impact on London was going to be huge.”
The Mayor of London said that eventually he was invited to a Cobra meeting on 16 March and only then did he fully understand the true extent of the Covid crisis.
In a witness statement Khan said, “I remember that the PM referred to the need for draconian measures and said the country would not have faced anything like it since the Second World War.
“I simply could not understand why, particularly given the increasing severity of the outbreak in London and my repeated requests to attend previous (Cobra) meetings in order to be kept informed, this information was only being shared with me at this stage.
“I was both deeply worried and furious that London had not been involved in conversations until this point.”
He added, “In this particular case, I can see no explanation at all why… the Greater London Authority, the Mayor of London were not around the table.
“I think lives could have been saved if we were there earlier.”
The Covid inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett asked the Mayor what would he have done if Downing Street informed him what was happening earlier, Khan said, “Some of the things that happened subsequently.
“So it was me that lobbied the Prime Minister to go to lockdown, it was me that lobbied the Prime Minister in relation to the inability to keep social distance on public transport, so people shouldn’t be using public transport unless they had to.”
On 19 March 2020 Khan said on Monday that following a meeting with the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that he showed a clear lack of what was happening in other countries.
The Mayor told the inquiry, “The Prime Minister wasn’t aware that in other parts of the world they had lockdowns in place and fines could be issued if you breached the lockdown.
“I was surprised he wasn’t aware of that in relation to what was happening elsewhere.”