LONDON — BCW London has launched a Covid-19 Inquiry Unit to help clients prepare for the upcoming independent Covid-19 public inquiry, which will look at all aspects of the UK’s preparedness and response to the pandemic.

The offer is led by Simon Richards, BCW London’s new head of public affairs, who was head of communications at NHS Property Services during the pandemic and joined the agency in February this year. 

Senior BCW advisors supporting the unit include John McTernan (former No.10 strategy director under Tony Blair), Ellie Wilcox (former Newsnight and Sky News journalist), Steve Hawkes (former deputy political editor of The Sun), Caroline Winters (former executive committee member at McDonalds, Sport England and Danone) and Nick Williams, BCW’s managing director of corporate and public affairs.

Williams said: “This Inquiry is likely to dominate the political landscape for months. Its forensic examination of corporate business continuity and disaster planning, corporate management of risk, governance structures, business preparedness as well as corporates’ internal and external communications means businesses need to start planning now for how they’re going to navigate through it."

To launch the unit, BCW has published a paper – ‘The Covid-19 Inquiry: what do we know, what can we expect and how can organisations prepare?’ – with analysis of the Inquiry’s scope and powers and advice on what organisations can do to prepare.

Richards said: “In the era of always-on media, the public reception of an organisation’s narrative can be as important as the formal evidence it presents to an inquiry. Our team is uniquely placed to help guide clients through the coming months”.

The public inquiry was announced  by UK prime minister Boris Johnson in May 2021. Since then it has faced delays and has now been pushed back to this summer. The public consultation on the Inquiry’s terms of reference was launched this month and will conclude on 7 April.