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Boris Johnson Will Hand Unredacted WhatsApps Directly To The Covid Inquiry

Boris Johnson (Alamy)

2 min read

Boris Johnson has told the Covid inquiry he will give them his unredacted WhatsApp messages directly as the government remains steadfast in their refusal to hand over the materials.

In a letter to the inquiry on Friday morning, the former prime minister said he would give the material to the inquiry himself after the Cabinet Office refused to do so, and launched legal action in a bid to stop it from ever happening.

On Thursday, the government announced it would seek a judicial review of inquiry chair Lady Hallett's request for all of Johnson's WhatsApp messages during the pandemic, as well as his personal diaries, to be disclosed as part of the inquiry's work, in an attempt to quash her demand. 

The Cabinet Office said handing over all the material would mean disclosing records that are "unambiguously irrelevant" to the inquiry's work and undue intrusion into the privacy of individuals involved.

Johnson gave the material in question to the Cabinet Office on Wedneday and urged it to pass it on to the inquiry, but the department did not change its position. 

However, the former prime minister has now written to Lady Hallett saying he would give her the requested material directly. 

"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," Johnson said. 

But he has previously been criticised for only producing WhatsApp messages sent after May 2021, well over a year after the Covid outbreak hit the UK. 

The ex-PM said this was because he got a new mobile phone this month and security officials had advised them to not turn on his old device. 

But in his letter to the inquiry chair, Johnson said he would to hand over material contained on this phone, too, and had asked the Cabinet Office to help him "turn it on securely".

He also claims to have asked the Cabinet Office to give the inquiry his physical notebooks and says he will ask for them to be returned to him so he can share them with the inquiry directly if the government is not willing to do so.

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