'A Waste Of Taxpayers' Money': Kay Burley Blasts Minister Over WhatsApp Legal Challenge

Health secretary Steve Barclay insisted the government trusts Covid inquiry chair Baroness Hallett.
Kay Burley clashed with Steve Barclay on Sky News
Kay Burley clashed with Steve Barclay on Sky News
Sky News

Kay Burley has accused ministers of wasting taxpayers’ money by taking the Covid inquiry to court over Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages.

The Sky News presenter clashed with health secretary Steve Barclay over the legal challenge.

Baroness Hallett, the chair of the inquiry, has requested all of Johnson’s WhatsApps and notebooks from during the pandemic.

But the Cabinet Office has gone to court to challenge the request - despite the former prime minister handing the messages directly to the inquiry.

Burley asked the minister: “Why would the government take its own Covid inquiry to court in a case where it’s almost certainly going to lose?”

Barclay replied: “The Cabinet Office wants to clarify the legal position in terms of what messages are disclosed. Obviously there are issues in terms of people’s privacy and their wider rights in terms of what messages may be sent.

“We have set up the inquiry - we massively value its work.”

But Burley hit back: “Why take it to court then?”

The minister said: “Well the Cabinet Office just wants to clarify the legal position about what is in scope.”

An exasperated Burley hit back: “Don’t you trust the chair to do that?”

Barclay said: “Of course we trust her.”

Burley then said the legal action was “a waste of taxpayers’ money”.

But the minister replied: “The Cabinet Office just wants to clarify the legal scope. It’s an innovative area to test and that’s something the Cabinet Office wants to clarify.”

In her opening remarks at the start of the inquiry yesterday, Baroness Hallett said she had “declined” a request by the Cabinet Office that she back down.

The judicial review is expected to be heard at the end of this month.


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