Question Time Audience Member Slams 'Shameful' Government For Protecting Covid WhatsApps

She said the government's legal action to protect Boris Johnson's messages showed "a lack of integrity".
A BBC Question Time audience member slammed the Covid over its decision to take legal action over the Covid WhatsApp messages
A BBC Question Time audience member slammed the Covid over its decision to take legal action over the Covid WhatsApp messages
BBC Question Time

A Question Time audience member laid into the Conservative government over its decision to launch a legal battle against its own public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic.

On Thursday, the government triggered a judicial review to prevent the release of Boris Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages, diaries and personal notebooks dated back to when he was leading the country through the health crisis.

Just hours after the cabinet office announced it was taking this action on Thursday, science minister George Freeman told BBC Question Time that it would probably fail.

Still, he maintained it was a “point worth testing”.

This did not exactly sit well with the audience, though.

One woman said: “Does it not yet again reflect a lack of integrity on behalf of the government to waste money by taking this to a judicial review, when they know, the advice they’ve been given, the outcome is predictable?”

“It’s shameful,” she concluded, with emphasis.

Another member of the audience also pointed out that Rishi Sunak had promised this government would be one of “honesty and integrity”, adding: “We were all locked down for months and months on end – the public deserve to know.”

A third person from the crowd also chimed in, saying: “It’s not for them to decide, it should be the Covid inquiry who decides. We’ve been lied to enough by the government.”

Frustration over the way the government seems determined to keep the ex-prime minister’s messages a secret was not just felt among the audience seats, either.

Speaking from the panel, former Tory minister Chris Patten made a pointed comparison with another government which has been under the magnifying glass over its handling of the pandemic.

He said: “We criticise China now for the way it’s tried to cover up where the coronavirus came from. It would be lamentable if we tried to cover up what was happening in this country.

“And to talk about WhatsApps and privacy after Matt Hancock loaded tonnes of WhatsApp messages onto an author to write about him I think is pretty laughable, so I think the government has, more than slightly, cocked this up.”


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