The former health secretary Matt Hancock has said he is "profoundly sorry" for every death caused by Covid-19. This came as he said it was a "colossal" failure to assume the spread of the virus could not be stopped.
The MP, who now sits as an independent after the Conservative whip was removed from him last year, told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry in London he understood why some people would find it difficult to accept his apology, though he said it was "honest and heartfelt".
Under questioning from Hugo Keith KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, for three hours Mr Hancock repeatedly said it was his view that the UK and the western world had been too focused on planning for a "disaster", such as the numbers who would die from infection and whether there were enough "body bags".
He also said: "The problem with the UK plan was that once we got to community transmission, it was wrongly assumed it wasn’t possible to stop the spread." Try MEN Premium for FREE by clicking here for no ads, fun puzzles and brilliant new features. Mr Hancock, who is set to step down as an MP at the next election, argued that the country needed to be prepared to lockdown early in future to stop a virus spreading, adding that to accept it will just pass between people is "implicitly an assumption and a decision that those most vulnerable to it will be hardest hit".