Boris Johnson hands over unredacted WhatsApp messages and notebooks to Cabinet Office for Covid inquiry

31 May 2023, 16:56 | Updated: 1 June 2023, 02:21

Boris Johnson has handed over all material requested for the inquiry
Boris Johnson has handed over all material requested for the inquiry. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson has handed over all requested materials, including unredacted WhatsApp messages and his notebooks, to the Cabinet Office for the Covid inquiry.

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All the material requested by the Covid inquiry had been handed to the Cabinet Office and should be disclosed to Baroness Hallett, a spokesman for Mr Johnson said.

It comes after the deadline for the government to release the unredacted WhatsApp messages and diaries belonging to Mr Johnson was extended.

It was originally set for 4pm on Tuesday before being pushed back to 4pm on Thursday.

The Cabinet Office had claimed it did not have access to Mr Johnson's WhatsApp messages and private notebooks, which were demanded by inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett.

Ministers previously objected to the release of "unambiguously irrelevant" material.

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But Mr Johnson's spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that everything had been handed over.

"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," they said.

"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."

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It comes after Labour accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of being "slippery" in the row over whether the government would provide the requested documents.

"I think the prime minister looks really slippery today," he told broadcasters on Tuesday.

"He says he wants the government to co-operate with the inquiry but the government has been withholding information the inquiry has asked for.

"One minute the government says the messages they have are immaterial; the next minute they're saying they don't exist. Which is it?"