Privacy Intrusion Claim Halts Release of Vallance’s Pandemic Diary to Covid-19 Inquiry

Legal representative cites human rights violation in the revealing of unfiltered thoughts during turbulent times

In a recent development, it has been asserted that the full disclosure of Sir Patrick Vallance’s diary entries to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry may infringe on his human rights. The former chief scientific adviser had labelled his diary as “a brain dump,” penned down during highly stressful days for mental health preservation, according to his attorney Matthew Hill. This disclosure emerges as eight media bodies collectively press the inquiry to unveil the entries in their original context as a part of a complete diary page.

The inquiry has earlier scrutinised excerpts from Sir Patrick’s pandemic diary, wherein he remarked about the “Number 10 chaos as usual.” These entries portray his instantaneous feelings, undistorted even when his stance altered subsequently. One of the entries candidly exposed the oversight in understanding scientific advice regarding the two-metre distancing rule by individuals in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, terming it as “quite extraordinary.”

Furthermore, the entries divulge his perception of being exploited as a “human shield” by ministers, alongside the chief medical officer and the Sage committee. They also register grievances against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s erratic behavior, equated to “bipolar decision-making” by a colleague.

Mr Hill stressed that these notes, which were a “form of release” for Sir Patrick, were never crafted for public viewing, and only saw the light due to the inquiry’s request. He argued that employing these notes in the inquiry encroaches on Sir Patrick’s right to a private and family life, shielded by Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights and common law. He proposed the crafting of a new document encompassing the “relevant extracts.”

On the contrary, Jude Bunting KC, representing the eight media firms, contested that Sir Patrick lacks a “reasonable expectation of privacy in the redacted notes” as they’ve already been disclosed to the inquiry, deemed ‘clearly relevant’, and have been shared with all core participants besides being referenced in open hearings.

The Inquiry chairwoman, Baroness Heather Hallett, has decided to mull over the submissions before arriving at a decision. The tug of war between preserving personal privacy and the public’s right to information continues to play out in the backdrop of a nation grappling with a pandemic and its multifaceted impacts. Source

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