Support our Nation today - please donate here

Cabinet Office loses court bid over Covid inquiry request for Johnson messages

06 Jul 2023 2 minute read
Boris Johnson Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Cabinet Office has lost its legal challenge to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry chairwoman’s request for Boris Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages, notebooks and diaries.

The department brought legal action over inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett’s order to release the documents, arguing it should not have to hand over material that is “unambiguously irrelevant”.

In a ruling on Thursday, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Garnham dismissed the claim for judicial review, but said the Cabinet Office could make a different application to Lady Hallett.

At a hearing last month, lawyers for the department argued the inquiry does not have the legal power to force ministers to release documents and messages it says cover matters “unconnected to the Government’s handling of Covid”.

However, Hugo Keith KC, for the inquiry chairwoman, said the idea that the Cabinet Office could decide which aspects were relevant “would emasculate this and future inquiries”.


And Lord David Pannick KC, on behalf of the former prime minister, argued there is a “real danger” of undermining public confidence in the process if the department wins its bid.

The Government took the highly unusual step of launching the challenge in June, in a move which attracted criticism after days of public wrangling between the Cabinet Office and Lady Hallett’s probe.

The former prime minister handed over his unredacted WhatsApp messages, diaries and 24 notebooks to the Cabinet Office in late May.

Mr Johnson himself backed Lady Hallett, who rejected the argument that the material was irrelevant in a May ruling, in opposing the legal challenge over the request.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Well, Well, expect new laws before recess…

The Hellfire Club (old name for the Bullingdon Club) used to promote the slogan “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”…

This still applies to the likes of Fat Shanks and Rishi Ji and co but of course for the rest of us it will be…

“Do as I say or my ‘Old Bill’ will bang you up”

10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The irony is not lost on us either that the Bully-done [sic] Club et al. took on this action as a judicial review – whilst wishing to curtail this right to the rest of us wee oiks.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
10 months ago

Its Bloody obvious Boris and the party of SCUM have lots of things to hide

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.