Piers Morgan accuses Culture Secretary of sending ‘people out to get infected’ by allowing Cheltenham Festival to go ahead

Morgan told the Minister that the government made “a big mistake” allowing mass gatherings to go ahead in the weeks before the lockdown.

Piers Morgan has laid into Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for his decision to allow the Cheltenham Festival and other mass gatherings to take place in March.

In the live interview on Good Morning Britain, the host told Mr Dowden that the day before the four-day racing event, “16 million people in Italy were quarantined because so many people were dying.

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“And yet the next day, you go on the airwaves and you actively encourage Britons to go and attend mass gatherings.”

“250,000 at the Cheltenham festival, 55,000 at Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid - where Madrid fans weren’t even allowed to go to their own games at home because of the scale of the crisis, but we flew in 3,000 and said: ‘come to the Liverpool match.’”

“That was because you as a government actively sent people out to get infected,” Mr Morgan said.

Asked to explain the decision, Mr Dowden said: “The scientific evidence we were being given was that, at a mass gathering, the threat at a mass gathering relates to the people who immediately surround you – the people in front of you and behind you.

“The risk at mass gatherings was no greater or less than it would have been in pubs or restaurants, and the advice at that point was that we did not need to ban mass gatherings.”

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

“But we now know that was a big mistake,” Morgan interjected, “The question is, we don’t know how many people have got infected and have died as a result of that mistake.

“But it was wrong, wasn’t it?” he asked.

Mr Dowden replied: “As the situation developed, the scientific advice changed and we changed our guidance off the back of it.

“But mass gatherings are not different to any of those other events I described and at the appropriate moment we took the decision to close pubs, to close restaurants.”

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