Tories call for Welsh Ministers WhatsApp messages to be disclosed to Covid inquiry
The Welsh Conservatives have called for Welsh Ministers WhatsApp messages to be disclosed to the UK-wide inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic.
Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has urged the inquiry to seek access to private messages between Government ministers and officials in Cardiff Bay after the Covid inquiry asked to see Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages when he was Prime Minister, alongside communications with other senior officials.
Mr Davies has written to inquiry Chair, Baroness Hallett, asking her to ensure demands made of the UK Government are also made to the devolved administration.
“In order for the inquiry to achieve its purpose of delivering answers to those who lost loved ones, lost their businesses, and lost valuable hours of education during the pandemic, it is essential that we get as much transparency as possible,” Mr Davies said.
“This must extend just beyond decision-makers in Westminster, so that people in Wales can hold leaders in Cardiff Bay accountable too.
“We need to see how ministers interacted with civil servants, the health boards, and Public Health Wales to get the full picture.”
“We always wanted a Wales-specific inquiry as there would be no doubt this would happen as there would be no threat of Welsh Government actions being overshadowed, but without one we are writing to the Chair to ensure our joint ambition of equal scrutiny across the UK is maintained.
“I look forward to hearing back from Baroness Hallett on the assurances we have sought.”
He added: “this would ensure that the four governments within the United Kingdom are scrutinised on a level-playing field and that people in the devolved nations see accountability being applied equally, principles I know you [Hallett] are passionate about upholding”.
Hugo Keith KC, counsel for the inquiry, said the inquiry is taking a “targeted approach”, seeking documents relevant to the key narrative events, people and decisions covered by the second module.
Module two of the probe will scrutinise political decisions and actions in relation to the pandemic, between early January 2020 and February 2022, when remaining Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
Pete Weatherby KC, representing bereaved families, said a targeted approach gives “significant latitude” to those who are subject to investigation “to be the ones that actually determine – rather than the inquiry in the first place at least – what is disclosed”.
He added that families would urge the inquiry “to keep a very open mind of people who may have reason to try to rein in their own disclosure”.
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