Boris Johnson's WhatsApp Messages Handed Over To Cabinet Office

It follows a row between the government and the official inquiry into the pandemic.
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

All Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and notebooks demanded by the Covid inquiry have been handed over to the cabinet office.

The former prime minister handed his unredacted communications and called on the government to “urgently disclose” the material to the Covid-19 inquiry.

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

Inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett had demanded access to Johnson’s WhatsApp messages.

However, the cabinet office objected to the release of “unambiguously irrelevant” material and claimed they did not actually have access to it.

Meanwhile, the former prime minister’s team insisted they were happy to hand over the material if asked by the inquiry.

Ministers were even accused of a “cover-up”, an accusation flatly denied by Rishi Sunak’s spokesman.

Whitehall officials were concerned about setting a precedent by handing over all the requested documents in unredacted form, rather than deciding what material is relevant and should be submitted to the inquiry.

If they refuse to comply with the request to hand over the documents it will risk a court battle with the official inquiry.

The inquiry has set a deadline of 4pm on Thursday to hand over Johnson’s messages, notebooks and official diaries, having granted a 48-hour extension on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Johnson said all the material requested by the Covid inquiry had been handed to the cabinet office and should be disclosed to Baroness Hallett.

“All Boris Johnson’s material – including WhatsApps and notebooks – requested by the Covid inquiry has been handed to the cabinet office in full and in unredacted form,” the spokesman said on Wednesday.

“Mr Johnson urges the cabinet office to urgently disclose it to the inquiry.

“The cabinet office has had access to this material for several months. Mr Johnson would immediately disclose it directly to the inquiry if asked.

“While Mr Johnson understands the government’s position, and does not seek to contradict it, he is perfectly happy for the inquiry to have access to this material in whatever form it requires.

“Mr Johnson co-operated with the inquiry in full from the beginning of this process and continues to do so.

“Indeed, he established the inquiry. He looks forward to continuing to assist the inquiry with its important work.”

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride had earlier told Sky News “we absolutely intend to continue to be absolutely transparent and candid” and the government had already provided “55,000 documents, eight witness statements and corporate witness statements” to the inquiry.


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