LONDON — Boris Johnson was heckled by protestors at Britain’s COVID-19 inquiry as he said he was “deeply sorry” for mistakes made by his government during the pandemic.
Moments after the former prime minister was sworn in at the Paddington inquiry center, he started to apologize for the “pain, loss and suffering” that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic. But he was quickly interrupted by the inquiry’s chair Heather Hallett, who had ordered protesters in the public gallery to sit down.
After they refused to do so, four protesters — who were quiet, but holding signs aimed at Johnson — were removed.
Responding after the interruption, Johnson said he could “understand the feelings of these victims and their families” and said he was “deeply sorry for the pain and the loss and suffering of those victims and their families.”
He paid tribute to the “hundreds of thousands of health care workers and many other public servants and people in all walks of life who helped protect our country throughout a dreadful pandemic.”
“I do hope that this inquiry will help to get beyond this to the very difficult questions that those victims and those families are rightly asking, so that we can protect ourselves better, [and] … protect ourselves better in the future.”
Britain’s COVID-19 death toll has topped 230,000 people, and the inquiry so far has painted Johnson’s administration in an unfavorable light.
Former officials have described him as “bamboozled” by the scientific modeling and “obsessed with older people accepting their fate,” while Johnson is expected to be pressed on an incendiary claim that he said “let the bodies pile high” in a discussing about easing lockdown restrictions.