Cabinet Office Loses Legal Battle Over Release of Boris Johnson’s Unredacted Messages in Covid-19 Inquiry

Cabinet Office Loses Legal Battle Over Release of Boris Johnson’s Unredacted Messages in Covid-19 Inquiry

…By Henry George for TDPel Media.

The Cabinet Office has been unsuccessful in its legal challenge against the chairwoman of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, Baroness Heather Hallett, regarding her request for access to Boris Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages, notebooks, and diaries.


The department argued that it should not be compelled to hand over material that is “unambiguously irrelevant,” prompting a claim for judicial review.

However, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Garnham dismissed the claim while stating that the Cabinet Office could pursue a different application to Lady Hallett.

Arguments Presented in the Legal Battle

During the hearing, the department’s lawyers contended that the inquiry lacks the legal authority to force ministers to disclose documents and messages that cover matters unrelated to the government’s handling of Covid-19.


Conversely, Hugo Keith KC, representing the inquiry chairwoman, asserted that allowing the Cabinet Office to determine the relevance of aspects would undermine both the current inquiry and future ones.

Additionally, Lord David Pannick KC, on behalf of the former prime minister, warned of the potential damage to public confidence in the process if the department were to succeed in its bid.

Unusual Challenge and Support from Boris Johnson

The government’s decision to initiate the challenge in June was widely criticized, following a public dispute between the Cabinet Office and Lady Hallett’s investigation.

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

Notably, Boris Johnson himself supported Lady Hallett’s stance, as she had rejected the argument claiming irrelevance in a previous ruling.



The Cabinet Office’s legal challenge against the UK Covid-19 Inquiry chairwoman has been dismissed, resulting in the department’s obligation to potentially provide access to Boris Johnson’s unredacted communications and personal records.

The ruling signifies a setback for the government, highlighting the ongoing tension and controversy surrounding the inquiry.

The decision paves the way for further examination of relevant materials, emphasizing the significance of transparency and accountability in public inquiries of this nature.


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