As the UK COVID-19 Inquiry continues to make progress, a further set of preliminary hearings took place in the week of 31 October relating to Module 2 of the Inquiry's investigation.

In Module 2, the UK Inquiry is investigating the core political and administrative decision-making that took place throughout the pandemic. The Inquiry has split this module into four sub-modules: Module 2 which relates to the UK Government's decisions and Modules 2A, B, and C which relate to decisions of the Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

Module 2A will investigate strategic decisions taken by the Scottish Government, including those in relation to lockdowns, the use of face masks and the roll-out of Test and Protect. It will also examine the Scottish Government's communication with the UK Government and local authorities. The preliminary hearing in relation to this sub-module took place on Tuesday 1 November.

Relationship between the UK and Scottish Covid-19 Inquiries

Baroness Hallett, Chair of the UK Inquiry, opened the hearing by emphasising the importance of minimising "duplication of effort and resources" of those involved in both the UK Inquiry and the Scottish Inquiry into the handling of the pandemic.

Baroness Hallett had previously indicated that after its investigation in relation to Module 2A the UK Inquiry would leave the majority of Scottish issues to be examined by the Scottish Inquiry.

However, during the preliminary hearing Counsel to the Inquiry explained that the UK Inquiry's interpretation of its remit is at present that "all matters falling within the scope of the Scottish Inquiry also require to be examined, analysed and reported on independently" by it.

The Inquiries intend to co-operate with each other "whilst retaining their separate and independent obligations." Counsel to the Inquiry confirmed that a draft Memorandum of Understanding had been drawn up between the two Inquiries, setting out how they will achieve this. Discussions will continue now that the new Chair of the Scottish Inquiry has been appointed. It is hoped that this agreement once finalised will minimise the duplication of effort of the Inquiries themselves and ease the burden on the organisations and individuals that will have to provide documents to both Inquiries.

Core participants in Module 2A

Seventeen organisations applied to become core participants, seven of which were successful. These are the Scottish Ministers; the Scottish Covid Bereaved; the Trades Union Congress, (in particular the Scottish Trades Union Congress Branch); Public Health Scotland; NHS National Services Scotland; Scottish Care and the National Police Chiefs' Council.

Four core participants made oral submissions during the preliminary hearing. Each welcomed, and sought to reinforce the importance of, cooperation between the Scottish and UK Inquiries.

Requests for evidence

Counsel to the Inquiry confirmed that calls for documents will be issued to various organisations, including the Scottish Government, within the next few weeks.

A chronology of events and a corporate statement will also be requested from large organisations. The Inquiry will ask these organisations to respond to a number of targeted questions in order to gather factual information of relevance to the Inquiry. Counsel to the Inquiry distinguished these responses from "position statements" which are sometimes requested by inquiries as they "will not seek to elicit a position from the organisation about their interpretation of what happened" – they will be purely factual in nature.


A further preliminary hearing in relation to Module 2A is likely to be held in London in early 2023. The purpose of this hearing will be to provide an update on the progress of the Inquiry's investigation and any changes to the scope of Module 2A.

Public hearings of oral evidence will take place in Scotland in Autumn 2023. The Chair noted that there will be no overlap between these hearings and those of the Scottish Inquiry as public hearings for the Scottish Inquiry are not scheduled to begin until 2024. This has yet to be confirmed by the Chair of the Scottish Inquiry.

Module 3

The UK Inquiry is progressing rapidly. Its investigation into Module 3 in relation to healthcare systems in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland opened on 8 November 2022. Those who wish to be a core participant in this module must apply by 5 December 2022.

For more information about participating in the UK Inquiry or Scottish Inquiry, please contact Christine O'Neill KC, Kirstyn Burke or your usual Brodies contact.


Christine O'Neill KC

Chair & Partner

Kirstyn Burke

Senior Associate