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Mother of Covid victim critcizes South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon for defence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The mother of a 31-year-old woman who died from coronavirus has accused her MP of “not living in the real world” after he said that people were growing “bored” of the continued focus on the partygate scandal.

Speaking on Diss-based station Park Radio on Friday, South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon came to the Prime Minister’s defence, saying that people should move on from the current scandal surrounding Number 10 and focus on more pressing matters.

During his appearance, the Conservative took a question sent in from Rachel Turner-Hewitt – who was unable to be by the side of her daughter, Laura, when she died in hospital in April 2020 – asking if he could understand her anger towards the PM.

Richard Bacon came to the defence of the Prime Minister during an appearance on Park Radio last week. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.
Richard Bacon came to the defence of the Prime Minister during an appearance on Park Radio last week. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.

In his response, Mr Bacon said: “I completely understand, and I think a lot of people are rightly angry, however, I personally think the rules were too strict – if a nurse could hold her hand, why couldn’t her mother, if she had wanted to?

“We hear a lot about human rights, but the whole thing went very sideways.

“All the advice seemed to be that a care home could do what it liked, but the human rights of the person wanting to see their relatives in their last days and hours, or the human rights of the family wanting to go and visit them, were held at nought. They were held for nothing and I think that was wrong.”

He went on to defend the PM and said that people should shift their focus toward other issues, such as the war in Ukraine.

“I know the Prime Minister didn’t realise he was breaking the law,” he said.

“People have to remember that Downing Street is an office – it happens to be a home as well – but it’s an office with 400 people working in it.

“If you walk into a room, where there are people gathering for meetings, and somebody produces, as a surprise, a birthday cake, I don’t think that instantly follows that you have committed a criminal offence.

“Do we really tear down the Prime Minister for getting a £50 fine because he inadvertently made a mistake? I don’t think so, especially not at a time like this, with what’s going worldwide and what’s going on in Ukraine.”

Mr Bacon added that many of his constituents had become “bored” of the partygate scandal and that it was “time to move on”.

He continued: “I am, and I think quite a lot of people are, thoroughly bored of it. There’s a lot going on and I think it’s time to move on.”

Speaking to the Diss Express, Mrs Turner-Hewitt said she was unimpressed with Mr Bacon’s response.

“I thought he was very off the cuff and ‘let’s just sweep it under the carpet’,” said the 67-year-old, who lives in Appletree Lane, Roydon.

Rachel Turner-Hewitt (left) and her daughter Laura Turner-Hewitt.
Rachel Turner-Hewitt (left) and her daughter Laura Turner-Hewitt.

“He’s lucky he can move on; I will never move on and thousands of families like me will never move on.

“I don’t think he’s living in the real world – those people who are bored of it haven’t lost somebody to Covid.

“He should look out of his window in Parliament, across the river to the Covid Memorial Wall – for every single one of those people who died, their families stuck to the rules and didn’t see their loved ones.”

On Easter Sunday in 2020, Laura, who had mild learning disabilities, was taken from the sheltered housing complex where she lived to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where she was diagnosed with coronavirus.

After 48 hours in hospital, her condition began to deteriorate, and she was admitted into intensive care, where she was put on a ventilator until her death eight days later. Due to the lockdown restrictions at the time, she was unable to be accompanied by any friends or family.

Mrs Turner-Hewitt said that, with hindsight, she wished she had insisted on seeing her daughter.

“I wish I would have gone to visit her, but I didn’t,” said the retired retail manager.

“So many people like myself stuck to the rules – with hindsight, I should have insisted that I went. That haunts me.

“When she first went into hospital, she said ‘mum, please come see me, please be with me’. And I said I wasn’t allowed, and she said ‘can I come home when I’m better?’ and I promised she would.

“It wasn’t normal – when somebody is dying, you go with that person.”

Laura was a well-known figure around Diss, winning the town council’s first Junior Good Citizen award in 2002 and spending six years volunteering at Break, a charity shop in Mere Street.

“The first year was a blur for me because everything was so peculiar,” added her mother.

“We only had 10 people at the funeral. In normal times, there would have been hundreds because everyone knew Laura.

“Every loss is hard, but, when you can’t grieve normally, it makes it even harder.

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