Asian dentist sues health secretary over his father’s death
Dr Minesh Talati (R) with his father, Navin Talati, and supporters during a 2017 election campaign. (Courtesy: Twitter)
Eastern Eye Staff
AN NHS dentist has initiated legal action against Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Public Health England over his father’s death due to Covid-19.
Dr Minesh Talati’s father Navin Talati, 80, had died on April 18 at the Royal London Hospital after a 28-day battle for life.
The implant surgeon claimed he unwittingly infected his parents and pregnant wife, Joanne, as he went by “erroneous” PHE advice.
Dr Talati, who had contracted the virus in late February, visited his parents staying in Goodmayes, Essex, in the first week of March as he was unaware that he had Covid-19.
He started showing symptoms only after two days, and tests later confirmed the infection.
At that time, PHE advice had played down warnings of community transmission, alleged Dr Talati.
According to him, the PHE website failed to raise caution even as government’s scientific advisers were aware of coronavirus transmission happening in the country.
Had there been sound warning on transmission, he would not have visited his parents, said Dr Talati.
The basis for his legal action — over death of a loved one due to Covid-19 — was reportedly the first of its kind in the UK.
Dr Talati, who was a Tory candidate from Barking in the 2017 Election, said he was not suing the authorities with any financial motives.
“I want justice,” he said. “Someone has to take responsibility for ignoring the signs.”
Dr Talati said his father’s death had left him shattered.
“He was not just my father, I’ve lost my best friend, I’ve lost my work colleague,” he said. “The person I went out for a drink with was my father.”
Navin Talati had migrated from India in 1969 and worked as an NHS pharmacist for 45 years. He is said to have helped Dr Talati set up a dental practice in 2009.
Dr Talati added that timely government action could have prevented many deaths.
“Coronavirus is a disaster that we should have been prepared for,” he wrote on the CrowdJustice website. “If the government had acted earlier in their response to Covid-19, thousands of lives would have been saved.”
He accused the the government of “misleading the nation”, and failing ensure that “citizens had been informed of the true extent of this outbreak”.
He pinned the blame on Hancock for allegedly not doing what “could be reasonably expected of him to avoid a real and immediate risk to life from Covid-19”.
“I am intending to hold the secretary of state for health and social care to account in the courts and take legal action,” he said.
“This is on the basis that the secretary of state and the executive agency PHE has failed to comply with their duties under article 2 of the Human Rights Act.”
Dr Talati also alleged that the “continued use of airports and the suspension of mass testing in early March” had contributed to the rampant spread of the virus.
He said the legal action was being launched “on behalf of all those who have suffered and lost loved ones” due to the “failures of the government to restrict the spread of coronavirus”.
“I believe that together we can hold the government to account,” said Dr Talati.
Social commentators noted that this suit could spark off a trend of similar legal action against the government.
The Department of Health said: “We cannot comment on ongoing or potential action against the department.”