Boris Johnson Will Hand Over All Messages To Covid Inquiry – Including Old Phone

The former prime minister has bypassed the government which is trying to prevent the material being handed over.
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

Boris Johnson has said he is willing to hand over “all unredacted WhatsApp” messages to the Covid inquiry – including material from an old phone.

The former prime minister is willing to bypass the government which is trying to stop the material being handed over through a judicial review.

It follows an extraordinary argument between ministers and the official inquiry into the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak’s government is trying to block inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett’s order to release WhatsApp messages and diaries, arguing that it should not have to hand over material which is “unambiguously irrelevant”.

However, a defiant Johnson has said: “I am perfectly content for the inquiry to see it.”

In a letter to Covid-19 inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett, Johnson wrote: “The government yesterday decided to take legal action. It was not my decision to do so.

“While I understand the government’s position, I am not willing to let my material become a test case for others when I am perfectly content for the inquiry to see it.

“I am therefore providing the material directly to your inquiry today in unredacted form.”

Questions had previously been raised over an old phone Johnson abandoned amid security concerns in the middle of the pandemic.

He was forced to change his mobile in 2021 after it emerged his number had been publicly available online for 15 years.

But he has now confirmed he is willing to hand it over, adding: “I would like to do the same with any material that may be on an old phone which I have been previously been told I can no longer access safely.

“In view of the urgency of your request I believe we need to test this advice, which came from the security services.

“I have asked the cabinet office for assistance in turning it on securely so that I can search it for all relevant material. I propose to pass all such material directly to you.”

Johnson also said he would ask for his unredacted notebooks back from the cabinet office and share them with the Covid inquiry if the government refuses to do so.

In a letter to the inquiry, the cabinet office said it was bringing the judicial review challenge “with regret” and promised to “continue to co-operate fully with the inquiry before, during and after the jurisdictional issue in question is determined by the courts”.

The clash between Sunak’s government and the inquiry has prompted accusations of a “cover-up”, as one minister conceded that the government was unlikely to win the court fight.


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