What are the Government hiding about their response to Covid-19?

by Dr Moosa Qureshi

What are the Government hiding about their response to Covid-19?

by Dr Moosa Qureshi
Dr Moosa Qureshi
Case Owner
I am a frontline NHS doctor who has campaigned with 54000doctors.org for patient safety and whistleblowing protection, and for Dr Bawa Garba's successful legal challenge against the medical regulator.
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I am a frontline NHS doctor who has campaigned with 54000doctors.org for patient safety and whistleblowing protection, and for Dr Bawa Garba's successful legal challenge against the medical regulator.
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Latest: June 1, 2020

Breaking: We have launched our application for expedited Judicial Review

Thanks to your generous donations, today we have filed and served our application for expedited Judicial Review against the Health Secretary. Three witness statements. Seventy-four documents. Four Ke…

Read more

Summary: 

The Government have failed in their duty of transparency by consistently refusing to disclose the report from the Cygnus Exercise. This exercise was carried out in 2016 to prepare the UK for an influenza pandemic - the top risk on the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies. The Cygnus Report is directly relevant to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and we aim to force the Government to disclose it in full. This information will enable us to hold the Government accountable for their pandemic preparations and management.

"This legal case will enable us to hold the Government accountable for their pandemic preparations and management."

Background:

The Government have shamefully failed in their duty to provide transparency to healthcare workers and to the public regarding the scale of the Covid-19 crisis:


The Cygnus Exercise was carried out for the express purpose of informing Government, public health experts, medical practitioners, social care providers and the general public, on how best to prepare for an influenza pandemic. Press coverage suggests that it was initially envisaged that a report setting out the "learning and recommendations" from the Cygnus Exercise would be published, however this was never done because the findings were "too terrifying" to be revealed. Specifically, the Cygnus Report uncovered UK shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Why does it matter?

Data from the European CDC indicates that NHS hospitals have seen markedly increased mortality due to Covid-19. Ventilator capacity has been a serious issue which is likely to have contributed to our mortality rates.

In addition, high levels of reported mortality in UK care homes suggest that the true extent of the pandemic may have been underestimated, and that significant public health challenges remain unmet by Government policy.

"There is a clear public interest in publishing the Cygnus Report to allow the public to test the veracity of the statements being made by the Government."

There is a clear public interest in publishing the Cygnus Report to allow the public to test the veracity of the statements being made by the Government, and to take on board, at this critical juncture, the lessons and recommendations that are set out in the Report. Moreover, there is a general public interest in promoting transparency in Government, and in the Secretary of State taking whatever steps he can to increase public trust and confidence in the UK Government’s response to, and preparedness for, the Covid-19 outbreak and its aftermath.

What is the next step in the case?

We intend to challenge the Secretary of State's refusal to publish the Cygnus Report by way of Judicial Review and/or a Part 8 claim. We are also pursuing action under the Freedom of Information Act. We see this case as a first step in seeking accountability and transparency in Government decision making and we will not shy away from bringing further legal cases which need to be brought in the public interest.

Who we are:

I am a medical doctor working in a busy NHS hospital. I provide care for patients with blood disorders including leukaemia, who do particularly badly when infected with Covid-19. I have developed strong relationships with several healthcare watchdog organisations. I also have a track record of crowdfunding important legal victories. 

I have significant experience campaigning with 54000doctors.org for NHS whistleblowers including Dr Chris Day.  This groundbreaking case restored legal protection for 54,000 doctors to speak up for patient safety, which had been removed after the Government provided misleading information to British judges. I also co-organised the crowdfunding campaign for the landmark NHS case of Bawa-Garba v GMC, which has been described as "the case that rocked medicine". The Bawa-Garba case led directly to the Government ordering a review into manslaughter legislation.

"Leigh Day Solicitors and Tom Hickman QC... are a formidable legal team which will call the UK Government to account."

This current legal action is being undertaken by Leigh Day Solicitors – Legal 500’s "Public Sector Firm of the year" for 2020. Lead Counsel is Tom Hickman QC, who has worked on some of the UK’s most important public law cases and co-authored leading texts on Human Rights Law, and he is ably assisted by Jason Pobjoy also at Blackstone Chambers. This is a formidable team which will call the UK Government to account.

How much are we raising and why? 

Both Leigh Day and Counsel have agreed to act under a heavily Discounted Fee Agreement because of this case's importance in the public interest. We have an initial target of £5,000 but we will need more money to pay for Court fees, legal fees, and for any losses or liabilities which may arise from this case. 

What can you do? 

"Please donate and be part of this groundbreaking legal process."

  • Please donate and be part of this groundbreaking legal process - your generous donations are hugely appreciated and will go entirely to legal costs.
  • Please share this CrowdJustice page.
  • Please tweet messages in support with hashtag #JRCovid19 and tag @JRCovid19 and @54kdoctors. You can find me on @DrMQureshi.

Thank you for your support.

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Update 6

Dr Moosa Qureshi

June 1, 2020

Breaking: We have launched our application for expedited Judicial Review

Thanks to your generous donations, today we have filed and served our application for expedited Judicial Review against the Health Secretary. Three witness statements. Seventy-four documents. Four Key Authorities. 1010 pages. 41.9 megabytes of PDF arguing for full disclosure of the secret Cygnus Reports.

We have evidence that the leaked “Cygnus report” published by the Guardian is only one of several secret reports. In fact, the Government has a large amount of pandemic data from Cygnus which is informing the Government’s current strategy but which it is refusing to disclose because it’s politically embarrassed by its own previous failure to act on it.

We are arguing that transparency is essential for the scientific and healthcare communities to evaluate the Cygnus data and use it to come up with solutions to the current crisis. We are also arguing that transparency is essential so that the British public can be fully informed and engage democratically with the national challenges which lie ahead.

We have a team of high calibre lawyers who have a track record of holding the Government to account, working around the clock at an incredibly reduced cost. This is a groundbreaking case which can crack open what went wrong with #COVID19UK, and more importantly – give us the data to start making it right. We’re almost at our crowdfunding target, please continue to share with your friends and colleagues: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/jrcovid19/

Read the story in today's Telegraph here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/01/exercise-cygnus-nhs-doctors-legal-bid-force-government-release/

Kind regards,
@DrMQureshi
@JRcovid19 @54kdoctors @LeighDay_Law

Update 5

Dr Moosa Qureshi

May 29, 2020

Introducing the JRcovid19 team

We've already introduced Tom Hickman QC and Jason Pobjoy on our CrowdJustice page. They're both providing JRcovid19 with formidable legal representation of the highest calibre. This is an update on some of the other individuals who are playing key roles in the fight for COVID-19 transparency.

Firstly, Tommy Greene is acting as an additional claimant in our case against the Health Secretary. Tommy is a young freelance journalist who has written for a variety of newspapers in the UK and abroad on subjects as diverse as NHS patient safety and climate change. He wants full disclosure of the Cygnus Report because as an investigative journalist he wants to hold the Government to account, and he believes the public need this information in order to assess and critique current government decision making.

Leigh Day Solicitors have provided outstanding legal support in putting this groundbreaking legal case together. Tessa Gregory is a partner at Leigh Day and has played an incredibly important role in developing this project. She combines legal expertise with a genius for case management and a flair for team building. She also has a track record of holding the UK Government to account at the highest level. Tessa is assisted by Carolin Ott - an immensely talented dual-qualified lawyer who has worked tirelessly on our case and has previous experience working at both the International Criminal Tribunal and Harvard Law School.

Finally, we're delighted to announce the addition of Hollie Higgins to the JRcovid19 legal team. Hollie is a dynamic young barrister with a record of academic excellence at both Oxford and Harvard, who has recently assisted Michael Beloff QC and Ben Jaffey QC in pursuing an important discrimination case against the Ministry for Justice. We're confident she will play a significant role in assisting Tom Hickman QC and Jason Pobjoy to demand transparency on Exercise Cygnus.

We're moving forwards rapidly and will keep you updated.

@DrMQureshi
@JRcovid19 @54kdoctors @LeighDay_Law

Update 4

Dr Moosa Qureshi

May 27, 2020

JRcovid19 update: "pre-action protocol"

This is just a quick update on where we are with our legal case.

During the last few weeks, the JRcovid19 legal team have been pursuing the Judicial Review pre-action protocol, which enables legal parties to understand and properly identify the issues in dispute before going to court, and also provides an opportunity to settle the dispute without legal proceedings.

We have exchanged numerous “pre-action letters” with lawyers acting for the Secretary of State for Health. These letters have been helpful in formulating our respective positions but unfortunately the Government has continued to refuse disclosure. Leigh Day solicitors Tessa Gregory and Carolin Ott have provided me with phenomenal legal representation during this complex process.

We continue to believe that full disclosure of the findings of Exercise Cygnus is incredibly important to understand why the UK's mortality rate has been so high, and to prepare for any second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We think we have a strong case. We will keep you updated with further developments.

Please spread the word: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/jrcovid19/

@DrMQureshi
@JRcovid19 @54kdoctors @LeighDay_Law

Update 3

Dr Moosa Qureshi

May 11, 2020

Exercise Cygnus - we want full disclosure

We've read the Cygnus Report recently published in the Guardian, and we believe it leaves many questions unanswered. It beggars belief that a Tier 1 Exercise looking at a respiratory viral pandemic did not comprehensively address personal protective equipment (PPE) or ventilators. The leaked document also seems at odds with recent comments from Baroness Blackwood that one of the important steps taken in response to Exercise Cygnus was to "scale up" the supply of PPE.

Today we've written to the Government asking for confirmation that the document published by the Guardian on 7 May 2020 is authentic, but also reiterating our request for full disclosure of all documents related to Exercise Cygnus, including any documents showing conclusions relating to the supply of PPE and/or ventilators.

In other words, our legal action for full disclosure continues. Please spread the word: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/jrcovid19

@DrMQureshi
@JRcovid19 @54kdoctors @LeighDay_Law

Update 2

Dr Moosa Qureshi

May 7, 2020

Our response to the leaked "Cygnus Report"

Response to leaked Cygnus Report: Leigh Day press release



Update 1

Dr Moosa Qureshi

April 26, 2020

Our case makes national newspaper headlines within 12 hours

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