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

11 July 2023, 00:11 | Updated: 11 July 2023, 00:40

Boris Johnson fails to hand over mobile containing Covid WhatsApp messages as inquiry's deadline passes
Boris Johnson fails to hand over mobile containing Covid WhatsApp messages as inquiry's deadline passes. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

Boris Johnson has failed to hand over his old mobile phone containing crucial WhatsApp messages at the centre of the ongoing Covid inquiry.

Despite the strict deadline for the submission of relevant evidence being set by the Covid inquiry, the former PM failed to hand over the handset in time.

The phone, which contains messages dating back to May 2021, holds vital information linked to the government's Covid response.

Baroness Hallett, the chair of the Covid inquiry, had issued the Cabinet Office a 4pm deadline on Monday, July 10, by which to hand over all of Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and diaries.

Boris Johnson has failed to hand over his old mobile phone containing crucial WhatsApp messages at the centre of the ongoing Covid inquiry.
Boris Johnson has failed to hand over his old mobile phone containing crucial WhatsApp messages at the centre of the ongoing Covid inquiry. Picture: LBC / Alamy

However, it's emerged the messages remain stored on Johnson’s old device, which he was forced to switch off in May 2021 following a major security breach.

The breach in question arose after it emerged the former PM's mobile number had been freely available on the internet for some 15 years.

The government had previously attempted to block the release of such messages, labelling them “unambiguously irrelevant material”, eventually losing their legal battle.

According to reports, Mr Johnson’s office said his team was cooperating with government security officials on the best way to switch on the device - known as 'Phone 1'.

They added that they would endeavour to “cooperate fully” with the inquiry.

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The breach in question arose after it emerged the former PM's mobile number had been freely available on the internet for some 15 years.
The breach in question arose after it emerged the former PM's mobile number had been freely available on the internet for some 15 years. Picture: LBC / Alamy

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A spokesman for Johnson told The Indipendent: “Mr Johnson is co-operating with the government-appointed technical consultants to carry out this process which is under way"

“He continues to co-operate fully with the inquiry and, as previously stated, has no objection to disclosing the material in question to the inquiry.”

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