The UK Covid-19 Inquiry has announced the creation of an independent Ethics Advisory Group to ensure its UK-wide listening exercise, Every Story Matters, maintains the highest ethical standards.
The Group, with expertise in social research ethics and practice, will provide an independent review of the design and approach of Every Story Matters and will be chaired by David Archard, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast.
Every Story Matters is the Inquiry’s way of engaging with people across the UK to hear their experiences of the pandemic, which can be brought together to understand the experience across the whole of the UK, including those seldom heard. Those experiences will then be submitted into evidence and considered by the Inquiry Chair, contributing to learning lessons for the future.
David Archard is also Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and Honorary Vice-President of the Society for Applied Philosophy. He is an applied moral philosopher who has published widely on many topics, especially the moral and political status of children, and the family.
The members are academic experts with deep knowledge of the research industry and its methods and extensive experience carrying out research and ethics appraisals. The Group has broad-ranging knowledge in areas such as health, the care sector, law and psychology. The Group will review the proposed approach at key milestones during the Inquiry’s listening exercise and provide advice on emerging issues.
The five-member EAG comprises the Chair plus the following four independent members:
- Daniel Butcher, Head of Research Ethics and Governance, Kings College London: Daniel is part of a team which manages the College-wide ethical clearance process which is designed to ensure that all research activities involving people undertaken by King’s staff and students are carried out in a way that safeguards the dignity, rights, health, safety, and privacy of those involved.
- Emma Cave, Professor of Healthcare Law, Durham University: Emma publishes on matters relating to consent, public health and health research.
- Josie Dixon, Assistant Professorial Research Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science: Josie worked at National Centre for Social Research and is now at LSE. She understands qualitative research, as well as having expertise in palliative and social care.
- Dr Mehrunisha Suleman, Director of Medical Ethics and Law Education, Ethox Centre, Oxford Population Health (University of Oxford): Mehrunisha is a medically trained bioethicist and public health researcher and recently led the Health Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Inquiry which involved curating a diverse portfolio of work to assess the impact of the pandemic on health and health inequalities.
The UK Covid-19 Inquiry Ethics Advisory Group Chair, Professor David Archard, said:
“I am delighted and honoured to take on the role of chairing the Ethics Advisory Group of Every Story Matters. The Inquiry is an extremely important investigation of the ways in which the pandemic impacted on the lives of everyone in the UK, and it is critical that its Listening Exercise is conducted in an ethically robust manner and lessons are learnt for the future. I look forward to ensuring that this is so.”
Inquiry Secretary, Ben Connah said:
“People are at the heart of the Inquiry’s work and through Every Story Matters we will keep human experiences front and centre. Our approach must be independently evaluated as ethically sound
“Our new Group Chair, Professor David Archard and the other members of the Ethics Advisory Group are experts in their field. I look forward to working with them as the Inquiry documents the human cost of the pandemic to strengthen its findings and benefit the UK now and in future generations.”