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The Covid Inquiry Has Still Not Been Given All of Boris Johnson’s WhatsApps

A spokesperson for the Covid Inquiry told Byline Times they still did not know when they would be given access to the messages on the former Prime Minister’s phone

Boris Johnson. Photomontage: Alice Mitchell / Alamy

The Covid Inquiry has still not been given access to all of Boris Johnson’s WhatsApps, ten days after the High Court deadline compelling their release passed.

The High Court had ordered all of Johnson’s messages to be handed over by 4pm on July 10.

However, a spokesperson for the inquiry told Byline Times on Thursday that they had still not been given access to the messages on Johnson’s old phone, which he stopped using in 2021.

They said that Johnson was complying with the process, but were not aware of any announcement on when they would be able to access the messages.

A Cabinet Office source also suggested on Thursday that Johnson’s phone had still not been accessed by officials.

The continued delay came after the former Prime Minister initially suggested back in May that he had handed over all of his WhatsApp messages “full and unredacted” to the Inquiry.

However, it later emerged that this did not include any messages written prior to May 2021, when he changed phones.

Johnson stopped using his old phone after it emerged that its number had been freely available online for well over a decade.

His team later insisted that the former Prime Minister had been unable to fully comply with the court because he had forgotten the password to his old phone.

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However, this problem appeared to be resolved last week, after a spokesman for Johnson admitted that the Government had “provided a passcode on their records which matches what Boris remembers”.

It is unclear why the release of the messages continues to be delayed.

Politico reported on Thursday that Johnson’s team now expected an “update” on the issue by the end of this week.

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However, a spokesperson for the Inquiry told this paper that they were unaware of any imminent update on the status of Johnson’s phone and had not been told to expect anything this week.

The Covid Inquiry’s original request for Johnson’s WhatsApps was initially frustrated by Sunak’s Government, who sought to challenge the request in the courts, saying that it would risk the release of “irrelevant” private information.

The challenge was launched despite legal experts, and even one Government minister, predicting that it would likely fail.

As predicted, the High Court ultimately rejected the Government’s application, saying it was for the chair of the Covid Inquiry, Baroness Hallett, to decide which messages were relevant and which were not.

A spokesman for Rishi Sunak told Byline Times on Thursday that they had no update on the status of Johnson’s phone and that it was now a matter for the former Prime Minister and the Inquiry to resolve.

A spokesman for Johnson did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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