Health Secretary stops short of saying it's right for Cabinet Office to 'challenge' Covid inquiry request for WhatsApps

7 June 2023, 09:41 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 09:52

Health Secretary Steve Barclay stopped short of saying it was right for the Cabinet Office to make the "challenge".
Health Secretary Steve Barclay stopped short of saying it was right for the Cabinet Office to make the "challenge". Picture: LBC

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

Steve Barclay repeatedly said it was right that the legal position was "clarified", as Boris Johnson said he would hand over "all unredacted WhatsApps", but the government is attempting to block these from being given to the inquiry.

Nick Ferrari at Breakfast began: "We learned yesterday that Matt Hancock, the former Health Secretary, has offered to hand over all his messages to the inquiry unredacted. Will you be doing the same Secretary of State?"

Steve Barclay replied: "Well I've complied with whatever the inquiry requested, so I have obviously submitted, as many ministers have, a witness statement. The Cabinet Office is currently testing a legal aspect around messages so -"

"Do you agree to that testing?" Nick asked. "You used to run the Cabinet Office, of course, last year as I recall. Are they right to challenge that request?"

"I think the Cabinet Office is right to clarify what the legal position is, and whatever the outcome of that is, of course as a minister I will comply fully with that", the Health Secretary responded.

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"So are they right to challenge it though, is that right?" Nick asked again.

"Yes, I think it's right to clarify what the legal position is, that's what the Cabinet Office is doing, and then once we have the outcome of that, then everyone can move forward", his guest answered.

READ MORE: Health Sec Steve Barclay refuses to accept damming ONS report claiming 1,000 excess NHS deaths

The Secretary of State added that "we hugely value the work of the inquiry" and that "it matters massively to people, particularly those that loved ones during the pandemic", but that "where there is an element of doubt, then it's right that that's clarified".

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