Sir Patrick Vallance's pandemic diary will NEVER see light as it 'would breach his human rights'

Sir Patrick Vallance

Sir Patrick Vallance's pandemic diary will NEVER see light as it 'would breach his human rights'

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 13/12/2023

- 16:43

Updated: 13/12/2023

- 21:40

The Government’s chief scientific adviser kept a regular diary during the pandemic

The chair of the Covid inquiry has indicated Sir Patrick Vallance's diary would be kept secret.

Lawyers for the former chief scientific adviser have argued the full publication of his notes would be a breach of his human rights.

A copy of Sir Patrick’s nightly notes, which he wrote while acting as the Government’s chief scientific adviser during the pandemic, were made available to the inquiry as part of its evidence.

Extracts from the diary have been show to the inquiry and have provided an insight into Sir Patrick's views on the events of the pandemic.

WATCH NOW: Mark Dolan and Bev Turner discuss the Covid Inquiry

In the notes, Sir Patrick called former Prime Minister Boris Johnson: "All over the place and completely inconsistent."

He also criticised Johnson’s "impossible flip-flopping" and "bipolar decision-making", and in another entry referred to "chaos as usual" in Downing Street after a meeting on social distancing.

These personal notes have been used by Hugo Keith KC, and other inquiry counsel, to question ministers and other officials over Downing Street’s response to the pandemic and the culture at the time in Number 10.

A submission has been made to the inquiry in October requesting the diary entries be made available in full.


Covid press conference

Sir Patrick alongside former PM Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty


Sir Patrick’s legal team argued that this would be in breach of his human rights, and that only the words directly relevant to questioning should be displayed in public.

A representative for the Government Office for Science, along with current and former chief scientific advisers Matthew Hill, said Sir Patrick’s notes were "never intended for publication", and they would have remained unseen had it not been for a request by the inquiry.

He argued that publishing the diary in full would amount to an interference in Sir Patrick’s right to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the common law.

The barrister said in submissions to the inquiry: "He [Sir Patrick] describes them as a form of release which helped him focus on the challenges of the next day rather than dwelling on the events of the past."

Oncologist Prof Karol Sikora said: "National security should be the only reason to withhold pandemic correspondence, reputation management should not.

"Victims and their families, from both the virus and our response to it, have the right to fully understand the reasons behind every decision taken.

"Even if that embarrasses or undermines those who see themselves above it all."

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