Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock knew strict local restrictions "would not work", a furious Andy Burnham has told the Covid Inquiry.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester also accused ministers of "behaving appallingly" at a meeting to impose Tier 3 restrictions on the city in late 2020.

The tiered system was introduced in October 2020 with the most severe level - three - banning people from socialising indoors. Bars and restaurants were only able to serve customers on a takeaway basis while neighbouring areas could also be placed under less severe levels of restrictions.

Appearing visibly angry Mr Burnham quoted from unseen written evidence Mr Hancock, the former Health Secretary, provided to the Covid Inquiry. "He says in his evidence about Tier 3, 'I was in despair that we had announced a policy that we knew would not work."'

Mr Burnham - branded 'King of the North' for his rows with Boris Johnson's government during the crisis - added: "It makes me angry on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester that they sat in that room and they imposed a policy that they had been advised by SAGE and others would not work."

He also referred to an official minute of a top government meeting where he said a "punishment beating" for Greater Manchester was discussed. Reading an extract, he said: "Lancashire should have a lighter set of measures imposed than Greater Manchester since they had shown a greater willingness to co-operate. "Tougher measures should be imposed on Greater Manchester that day."

Mr Burnham added: "Because we stood up for people in our city region who would otherwise have really struggled had they gone into that lockdown without the funds to help them, because we took that stand they decided to make an example of us."

The Greater Manchester Mayor also blasted the late notice given to Greater Manchester when the Government imposed local restrictions in the summer of 2020. He said he had received "minimal notice" from the then-Health Secretary Mr Hancock. "This was as chaotic as it gets - he gave me an hour to speak to local leaders."

He added: "What I remember is about 8 o'clock that night, the health secretary gave a very cursory announcement to a TV camera in 4 Millbank that we would be going under these restrictions and then all hell broke loose."

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram also told the Inquiry he needed 24-hour police protection after Mr Johnson announced his area would be placed under Tier 3 rules. He had previously agreed with Mr Johnson that they should work together on announcing the move in autumn 2020. But later the same day ex-PM independently announced the restrictions.

Mr Rotheram said: "Without any notification to me, then we had to try and pick up the pieces."

Sadiq Khan also warned that lives could have been saved if No10 hadn't excluded London officials from emergency meetings. The Mayor of London told the Covid Inquiry he was "kept in the dark" by Downing Street as the virus ripped through the capital and his attempts to attend COBRA meetings were repeatedly rebuffed.

When he was finally allowed to attend on March 16, he was left "almost winded" by the severity of the crisis. Boris Johnson described it as the biggest challenge facing the UK since the Second World War at the meeting, he said. The London Mayor said he kept pushing the flip-flopping PM for more restrictions but he wasn't even aware of lockdowns in other countries at a meeting on March 19.

It also emerged Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove, who will appear at the Inquiry, was accused of “imposing things on mayors” in written evidence to the Inquiry.

Patrick Vallance suggested the Cabinet minister thought central Government should be able to force measures on local areas. “Gove argues for imposing things on mayors. ‘Why are we negotiating. This is the [government] of the UK. Just make it happen,’” the former Chief Scientific Adviser jotted down in his handwritten notes in October 2020. On the same day, he wrote down: “PM says ‘I am all in favour of ruling with a rod of iron but I was advised to engage and bring people along.’”