Boris Johnson 'can't hand over Covid WhatsApp messages because he has forgotten old iPhone password'

13 July 2023, 12:31 | Updated: 13 July 2023, 12:40

Johnson can't remember his old iPhone passcode
Johnson can't remember his old iPhone passcode. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson cannot hand over WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry because he has forgotten the passcode to his old mobile, it has emerged.

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He cannot remember it with "100% confidence" and there are worries the iPhone will disable itself and delete the data if it is entered incorrectly.

Government security experts have now been called in to stop the information being erased on the device, which is being held by Mr Johnson's lawyers.

"Boris Johnson is very happy for the material to be disclosed and has done everything he can to give the inquiry access to the phone," a source close to Mr Johnson said.

iPhones can delete data after 10 consecutive failed attempts to put a passcode in.

Mr Johnson had the phone during the pandemic but stopped using it in May 2021 amid security fears because his number could be found online.

Read more: Boris and Carrie Johnson announce birth of third child - a boy named Frank Alfred Odysseus Johnson

Johnson is struggling to get into an old phone
Johnson is struggling to get into an old phone. Picture: Alamy

It was last used in December that year when Lord Geidt, the former ethics adviser, asked for messages about the No10 flat refurbishment.

The Cabinet Office is investigating whether it has any note of what the passcode is.

It was supposed to hand over unredacted WhatsApps, notes and diaries he made during his time as PM by 4pm on Monday after the High Court ruled they needed to be given to the inquiry.

Read more: Boris Johnson fails to hand over mobile containing Covid WhatsApp messages as inquiry's deadline passes

"In line with the process set out by the court, the Cabinet Office has provided all of the requested material to the inquiry," the Cabinet Office said.

The Government had tried to oppose handing Baroness Hallett's inquiry "unambiguously irrelevant" data but High Court judges ruled against it last week.

There are fears the iPhone will delete its own data
There are fears the iPhone will delete its own data. Picture: Alamy

Mr Johnson has said he wants to hand information from his old phone over and The Times reports he wrote to the Cabinet Office for help getting access.

The inquiry examined Britain's preparedness and resilience last month at a public hearing last month.