COVID inquiry: UK’s top official Simon Case ‘excused’ from appearing this year

LONDON — Simon Case, Britain’s most senior civil servant, won’t be giving his long-awaited evidence to Britain’s COVID inquiry this year, after he was excused on medical grounds.

The cabinet secretary and head of the civil service is currently on medical leave and has no set return date. His absence from the heart of government was first reported by POLITICO in October.

A 9.public-inquiry.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/27091841/2023-11-24_-RULING-ON-SIMON-CASE-APPLICATION.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">statement from the inquiry’s Chair Heather Hallett, published Monday, confirms Case won’t appear in 2023, despite the inquiry currently digging into key decision-making during the pandemic.

The inquiry’s statement said Hallett had been provided with information about Case’s health. After reviewing this, she said she was” satisfied that Mr Case should be excused from giving oral evidence at the Module 2 hearings in 2023.”

“However, it very much remains my intention that Mr Case should give oral evidence to the inquiry,” Hallett added.

The long-running inquiry, which is looking at lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and will this week grill key politicians involved in the response, had been expecting to hear from Case before Christmas.

The inquiry has been awkward for the senior official, who was brought in by Boris Johnson as the country grappled with soaring COVID-19 cases. WhatsApp messages revealed during proceedings show Case sent damning messages about his then-boss, accusing the ex-PM of being unable to “lead” and changing his position “every day.”

Separate messages show Case named Johnson’s wife Carrie as “the real person in charge.”