Boris Johnson at risk of losing Covid inquiry legal funding, Whitehall warns

Boris Johnson has been warned by Whitehall that he might lose publicly funded authorized assist if he undermines the federal government’s place on the Covid-19 inquiry.

The Cupboard Workplace has written to Johnson to say it might withdraw the authorized recommendation it supplies to the previous prime minister if he undermines the federal government’s dealing with of the inquiry.

“The funding provide will stop to be accessible to you for those who knowingly search to frustrate or undermine, both via your individual actions or the actions of others, the federal government’s place in relation to the inquiry until there’s a clear and irreconcilable battle of curiosity on a specific level at concern,” the letter mentioned.

The previous UK prime minister final week bypassed the Cupboard Workplace by handing over on to the inquiry unredacted WhatsApp messages relationship from Might 2021, though the federal government has launched a authorized problem over the method.

The Cupboard Workplace mentioned a number of the materials demanded by the inquiry, headed by Girl Heather Hallett, was “unambiguously irrelevant” and is looking for to problem the calls for by way of a judicial assessment.

However Johnson mentioned he was “unwilling” to let his materials turn into “a check case for others” and gave the fabric on to the inquiry.

His allies imagine the federal government is bringing the authorized motion as a result of serving ministers — together with Rishi Sunak, prime minister — may additionally be requested handy over their unredacted messages at a future date.

The Cupboard Workplace letter, extracts of which had been printed within the Sunday Occasions, mentioned the authorized assist funding would “solely stay accessible” if Johnson complied with sure situations, together with sending the Cupboard Workplace “any witness assertion or exhibit which you propose to offer to the inquiry in order that it may be safety checked by acceptable officers”.

Johnson has to this point not supplied WhatsApp messages that predate Might 2021 as a result of he acquired a brand new cellphone in April 2021 after a safety breach. He has provided handy over materials on that gadget if safety consultants deem it secure to take action.

In a press release, the Cupboard Workplace mentioned its letter was not an try to forestall Johnson from absolutely aiding the inquiry.

The Cupboard Workplace mentioned: “This letter from officers merely reiterates that taxpayer-funded attorneys should be used to help the Covid inquiry and for no different goal.

“The letter makes clear Mr Johnson has an obligation to offer honest witness to the inquiry independently and regardless of the views of the present authorities.

“This letter was supposed to guard public funds. It by no means prevents Mr Johnson from offering no matter proof he needs to.”

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