COVID inquiry chair defies government over Johnson’s WhatsApp messages

Baroness Hallett, chair of the COVID inquiry, has acknowledged that it is her responsibility to discover out what evidence is “relevant or potentially relevant” in the ongoing legal dispute with the government over Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages. Despite the government’s request to withdraw her order for the unredacted materials, Baroness Hallett has refused to take action.
The government recently launched a judicial evaluation of Baroness Hallett’s order for the Cabinet Office at hand over Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages, diary entries, and different paperwork. However, the previous prime minister has already despatched “all unredacted WhatsApps” directly to the inquiry.
Baroness Hallett addressed the authorized battle, stating that she issued a notice underneath Section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005, clarifying that it’s the inquiry chair’s accountability to decide what is relevant or doubtlessly relevant. The Cabinet Office disagrees, claiming they aren’t obliged to disclose what they contemplate to be unambiguously irrelevant material.
Treasure ’s reasoning for launching the judicial review is based on “important problems with principle” regarding privateness. It questions whether Baroness Hallett has the facility to compel the manufacturing of paperwork and messages which may be unambiguously irrelevant to the inquiry’s work. The authorities argues that requesting such material represents an unwarranted intrusion into different features of the government’s work.
Despite the Cabinet Office’s stance, Johnson has sent “all unredacted WhatsApps” on to the COVID inquiry, stating that he’s “perfectly content” for the fabric to be inspected. He has additionally requested the government’s assist in securely turning on an old mobile phone handy over extra material.
Hugo Keith KC, a counsel for the inquiry, informed Baroness Hallett that Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages and notebooks could be in contrast with redacted copies offered by the Cabinet Office. The inspection is set to start this week, allowing the inquiry team to evaluate the appropriateness of the redactions applied by the Cabinet Office.
In addition to Johnson’s material, the inquiry has acquired paperwork with redactions from two different people. The Foreign Office has provided the inquiry with doubtlessly related WhatsApps from two special advisers, with extensive redactions utilized to parts deemed irrelevant. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care has provided a “much fuller disclosure,” including messages from Matt Hancock, who served as well being secretary in the course of the pandemic..

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