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Cabinet Office wary of Boris Johnson submitting unredacted coronavirus details to probe

Boris Johnson’s notes could be seized by the former prime minister to prevent him from handing over unredacted documents to him. COVID inquiry, government Lawyers seem to suggest

The head of the inquiry, Baroness Hallett, had given the government by Friday to clarify its position on whether to submit uncensored WhatsApp messages, notes and diaries of pandemic leaders to the inquiry.

Ministers have challenged her request for documents in court, but lawyers in the investigation have suggested they are cooperating with the UK coronavirus investigation team set up by Mr Johnson during his tenure. downing streetmeant that the unredacted document was likely to be viewed before judicial review at the end of the month.

But government lawyers said in Friday’s inquiry letter that it was “not appropriate” to take action “that is inconsistent with the very position put forward in judicial review.”

of Cabinet Office said some of the information requested by former senior judge Lady Hallett was not related to the government’s coronavirus response and was “clearly irrelevant.”

Investigative adviser Keith Hugo KC said at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday that Johnson’s pandemic notebooks were requested to be returned by Monday, June 12, for inspection by the investigative team.

But Palm Sahota, on behalf of Treasury Department attorneys, said Johnson, who dramatically resigned from Congress on Friday, took a “different position” with the government, which submitted unredacted documents to the investigation. He said he did not support doing so.

We are aware that Mr. Johnson has made public comments regarding information sharing with the investigation, and for his own reasons has taken a different position from the Cabinet Office.

Government Legal Affairs Bureau

That would allow the Cabinet Office to choose to keep Mr Johnson’s notes pending the conclusion of the High Court challenge, and even longer if a judge rules in favor of the Cabinet. There is also the possibility of doing so.

“We are aware that Mr Johnson has made public comments about sharing information with law enforcement agencies, and Mr Johnson has taken a different position from the Cabinet Office for his own reasons,” the attorney said.

“However, we do not believe it is appropriate for the government to have to take measures that are inconsistent with the very position it has put forward in the judicial review, and if the Cabinet Office has provided clearly irrelevant material, it would not be appropriate to do so. I would be in a bad position.” Mr. Johnson provided Mr. Johnson with the knowledge that he simply intended to provide it to the investigation without protection. ”

“Regarding the diary, I was able to confirm that these documents were Cabinet Office documents created to record the prime minister’s involvement,” Sabota added.

“The diary is not Mr. Johnson’s personal diary.”

The letter comes just after Mr Johnson announced his resignation from Congress following an investigation called a “witch hunt” by the House Privileges Committee into whether he misled the House over a lockdown-busting party in Norman. It was announced by the Cabinet Office a few hours ago. 10 during a pandemic.

The government’s Ministry of Justice said that none of the WhatsApp messages on Mr Johnson’s current phone or his old phone, which was locked for security reasons, would be sent unedited to Mrs Hallett’s team.

Messages related to three coronavirus lockdown orders in 2020 were released in May 2021 after it was revealed that Johnson’s cell phone number had been available online for 15 years. It is highly likely that it was sent to a phone that has been discontinued.

Sahota said the Cabinet Office “continues to work with security partners and Johnson’s representatives” to assess the device’s security issues, with the aim of “recovering the appropriate material.”

But even if the ministry had access to the messages, the non-edited content would not carry over until judicial review, he said.

The senior attorney said the ministers “do not believe that our position as described above is likely to materially impede the work of the investigation.”

He noted that Johnson’s notebooks, diaries and redacted copies of WhatsApp messages from Johnson’s “new” cell phone were submitted as evidence.

Mrs Hallett is scheduled to hear evidence from witnesses for the first time next week, with hearings scheduled in central London from Tuesday.

The first module of the study, planned for six weeks of hearings, will focus on resilience and preparedness.

In the second module, which is due to be presented in the fall and will examine government decision-making during the pandemic, Johnson’s evidence is likely to be highly credible.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cabinet-office-boris-johnson-government-covid-downing-street-b2354985.html Cabinet Office wary of Boris Johnson submitting unredacted coronavirus details to probe

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