I DON’T know if my Word Up column affords me a word of the week, but if it does, then this week’s word would be egregious. It was an adjective that Boris Johnson used to describe the bias shown to him by the Privileges Committee, over whether or not he had deliberately misled Parliament about the various parties held in Downing Street during lockdown. According to my Cambridge dictionary, the term means ‘extremely bad in a way that is very noticeable.’ Which, funnily enough, is a pretty apt description for our former Prime Minister.

Johnson’s fury was over the committee deciding that he had knowingly misled Parliament, leading him to resign as an MP before he could face the ignominy of being suspended, then losing his seat in the subsequent by-election. Adding to his anger was the publication of his honours list, shorn of such stalwarts as Nadine Dorries and his father. According to newspaper reports, Johnson and Rishi Sunak had one of those ‘recollections may differ’ meetings over who was going to get gonged. Johnson thought they had a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. Sunak said he promised no such thing. ‘Total rubbish’, Johnson came back. And so the Conservative pantomime rumbles on.

With all this dominating the headlines, you’d be forgiven for missing that the Covid Inquiry started this week. Led by Baroness Hallett, the inquiry is due to run for several years, but broken down into smaller modules, such as preparedness and decision making, with an interim report published for each. She began the inquiry by playing a deeply moving video showing the devastating effects the pandemic had on individual members of the public.

Baroness Hallett was originally selected to lead the public inquiry into the death of Dawn Sturgess and left that inquiry to take over here: that’s a shame for us locally, hoping for answers there, but good for the nation given her no-stone-unturned attitude to proceedings. That’s already led to a legal fight over the release of WhatsApp messages from key participants: the government going to court to stop them being released to the inquiry they themselves set up (‘Integrity, professionalism and accountability’). And the 150 questions sent to Boris Johnson include some corkers: ‘Please confirm… you suggested to senior civil servants and advisors that you be injected with Covid-19 on television to demonstrate to the public that it did not pose a threat?’ No doubt Johnson sees Hallett as part of the mysterious ‘blob’, hellbent on thwarting him at every turn.

Among those Boris Johnson honoured was his PPS Martin ‘Party Marty’ Reynolds, who famously messaged, ‘We seem to have got away with [it]’. Not, one suspects, if Baroness Hallett has anything to do with it.