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Johnson warned he could lose Covid inquiry funding if he ‘undermines’ ministers

03 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Boris Johnson has been warned he could lose public funding for legal advice if he tries to “frustrate or undermine” the Government’s position on the Covid-19 inquiry.

Cabinet Office lawyers told him that money would “cease to be available” if he breaks conditions such as releasing evidence without permission, the Sunday Times reported.

Mr Johnson has been at the centre of a row as ministers launched a High Court bid to challenge the inquiry’s demand for his unredacted WhatsApp messages and notebooks.

The former prime minister vowed to send all his messages to the official investigation directly, circumventing the Cabinet Office.

The Sunday Times detailed a letter sent by Cabinet Office lawyers to Mr Johnson last week.

“The funding offer will cease to be available to you if you knowingly seek to frustrate or undermine, either through your own actions or the actions of others, the Government’s position in relation to the inquiry unless there is a clear and irreconcilable conflict of interest on a particular point at issue,” it said.

They added that funding would “only remain available” if he complied with conditions such as sending the Cabinet Office “any witness statement or exhibit which you intend to provide to the inquiry so that it can be security checked by appropriate officials”.

The Cabinet Office said the letter was “intended to protect public funds” so taxpayer-funded lawyers are not used for any other purpose than aiding the inquiry.

Unfettered

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, a staunch ally of Mr Johnson, said it was “not a good look for the Government”.

“All evidence provided should be unfettered and not restricted by gov censorship – whatever form that may take,” she tweeted.

Tory donor Lord Cruddas, an outspoken backer of Mr Johnson, who handed him a peerage, urged the MP not to be “held to ransom” by the threat.

“Don’t worry @BorisJohnson I can easily get your legal fees funded by supporters and crowd funding, it’s easy,” he tweeted.

After the Government launched its legal battle, Mr Johnson wrote to the inquiry’s chairwoman, Baroness Hallett, saying he was sending all the unredacted WhatsApps he had given to the Cabinet Office.

He said he would like to do the same for the messages on an old phone he was told not to use after it emerged the number had been available online for 15 years.

That device will be crucial, containing discussions before May 2021 including around the three national lockdowns he ordered.

Mr Johnson told the chairwoman that he was “not willing to let my material become a test case for others when I am perfectly content for the inquiry to see it”.

The Cabinet Office missed Lady Hallett’s deadline set on Thursday to hand over the requested material.

But the Government department has been trying to resist the publication of messages it believes are “unambiguously irrelevant”.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “This letter from officials simply reiterates that taxpayer-funded lawyers must be used to aid the Covid inquiry and for no other purpose.

“The letter makes clear Mr Johnson has a duty to provide sincere witness to the inquiry independently and without reference to the views of the current Government.

“This letter was intended to protect public funds. It in no way prevents Mr Johnson from providing whatever evidence he wants to.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

“Sunak under fire as ‘stupid’ Eat Out to Help Out scheme to be focus for Covid Enquiry”

Folie a Deux (double madness) ‘the sharing of delusional ideas by two people who are closely associated’…

Fat Shanks and Sunak, partners in genocide, grave fillers the pair of them. Prepare the Tyburn Tree for they and all their guilty gang are going to festoon its branches, while the ghostly ranks of the slain shall march their souls into hell…

Last edited 10 months ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Justice demands he pays and pays and pays with the rest of his life spent behind bars…

The Mafia get their own wing, the Fat Shanks Mafia will need their own high security prison…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Nadine where have you been, you are up to your neck in this Eton Mess…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

It must be time King Charles III threw in the towel and sends his two champions to the Lions…

We deserve our cake and circus, thumbs down! Let St Peter present their case to God…

Last edited 10 months ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Sunak’s back room boys threaten Fat Shanks with putting his hand in his pocket…

Winchester made the repeating rifle that removed the Buffalo and the North American native population, they’re not so good at making straight talking prime ministers…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Well well, Instant Karma gonna get ya Rishi, your Modi Operandi will not work here, this snake is not charmed and your coiled helicopter will not help you now Bro…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Two minds, one believes in nothing but himself, the other believes that a very few chosen human beings have become a new species-homo superior-we call them billionaires… They have no concept of the sub-classes other than they are there to serve and be harvested like cattle or crops and the wealth thus created is theirs to hoard in castles and walled cities, out of reach, ready should the need arise to retreat to the safety of Islands in the Sun even other planets in the solar system. They are murderess and will not hesitate to remove all opposition with the… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 months ago

Firstly, Boris Johnson has not released all his WhatsApp messages to the COVID inquiry, only those from 2022 and not from the beginning of the pandemic. Also, Boris Johnson encouraged street parties to celebrate VE Day even though we were in lockdown where drunken revellers were filmed dancing and doing the Congo through the streets flouting COVID rules he srt and ignored. And don’t forget. Current PM then chancellor Rishy Sunak is the man who besides breaking his own rules with partygate, was also as chancellor responsible for the spread and deaths of thousands with his idiotic “Eat Out For… Read more »

A.Redman
A.Redman
10 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Good to know that the financial help given to ALL UK households was gifted to the charity of your choice?🤔

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago

Like rats in a sack.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
10 months ago

Why is the government using our taxes to fund this self-centred grifter’s legal expenses?

While he’s supposed to have been representing the interests of his constituents in parliament, he’s not been there, but elsewhere earning vast amounts from public speaking engagements.

He should be paying for his own legal representation, not us taxpayers.

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