Boris Johnson has come under fire from experts and bereaved families for delaying until spring 2022 the newly announced public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Work will now begin to appoint a chair and other potential panellists, and draw up terms of reference, with some hopeful that the inquiry will be led by a judge. The investigation is likely to start in a year’s time, Johnson told the Commons.

Experts said it could take three to six months to establish so could be up and running much sooner than spring 2022 if desired. Labour’s Lord Falconer, who passed the Inquiries Act as lord chancellor, said the government would be confident the Covid inquiry would not conclude before the next general election, expected in 2023.