Downing Street has said Boris Johnson went to the National Covid Memorial Wall for “quiet reflection” after campaigners for bereaved families criticised the “visit under cover of darkness”.
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice accused the Prime Minister of trying to dodge relatives of those who have died during the crisis by visiting the memorial late on Tuesday.
But No 10 defended Mr Johnson’s “private” visit to the site opposite the Houses of Parliament as being for “quiet reflection”, and said he “offers his deepest condolences” to those who have lost a loved one.
His official spokesman told reporters the Prime Minister, before this week’s memorial visit, had met with “a number” of families mourning loved ones who had died after contracting the virus.
The Covid campaign group is considering legal action against the Government as it demands ministers set a date for an independent, judge-led inquiry into the crisis.
Co-founder Matt Fowler said: “For weeks we’ve asked him to come to the wall and meet bereaved families. He’s refused to even acknowledge our request.
“Then, the day after it’s revealed he said he’d let ‘bodies pile high’, he makes a late evening visit under cover of darkness, just so that he can dodge meeting bereaved families.
“This is a cynical and insincere move that is deeply hurtful. Our invitation for him to walk the wall with families who’ve lost loved ones is still open, and we await a response.”
Mr Johnson has denied saying he would rather let “bodies pile high” than impose a third coronavirus lockdown.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman denied that Mr Johnson chose the late hour of his visit to avoid having to meet members of the virus bereavement group.
“As many others have done, he visited the memorial wall in private for quiet reflection.
“The Prime Minister has spoken to a number of families bereaved by Covid, both in person and virtually.
“With regard to the Bereaved Families for Justice group, the Prime Minister has said he is happy to meet them at an appropriate time to do so and once the legal proceedings have concluded.”
Separately, a No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister offers his deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one during this very difficult pandemic.”