Boris Johnson drops government-appointed lawyers for Covid inquiry

Boris Johnson drops government-appointed lawyers for Covid inquiry

  • By Becky Morton
  • Political journalist

source of images, Getty Images

Boris Johnson will no longer work with government-appointed lawyers for the Covid investigation, after being referred to the police over other potential rule breaches during the pandemic.

Allies of the former prime minister said he had lost faith in the Cabinet Office, which handed over the material.

The Cabinet Office said officials were obliged to release the documents under civil service rules.

Number 10 said neither ministers nor the prime minister were involved in the decision.

Mr Johnson was said to have been ‘livid’ that the material had passed to the police and had lost faith in the objectivity of the Cabinet Office leadership – both ministerial and official.

He will now appoint new lawyers to represent him at the investigation, which will be funded by the taxpayer.

Meanwhile, a row has erupted between the Covid Inquiry and the Cabinet Office over the publication of Mr Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and diary entries, according to newly released documents.

Crossbench counterpart Baroness Hallett, chair of the inquiry, demanded that the Cabinet Office hand over unredacted documents, saying failure to do so would be a criminal offence.

But the Cabinet Office disputed the claim, saying some of the material was “unambiguously irrelevant to the investigation”.

source of images, Cabinet Office/ Sound System


Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been fined for attending a birthday party in Downing Street

Officials passed information to two police forces after reviewing Mr Johnson’s official diary as part of the documents to be submitted to the public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, which is due to begin hearings this month next.

The Times, which first reported the story, said Mr Johnson had been referred to Thames Valley Police because his ministerial diary revealed visits from family and friends to Checkers – the home Prime Minister’s campaign campaign in Buckinghamshire – during the pandemic.

But a spokesman for Mr Johnson dismissed any alleged breach of the rules as a ‘politically motivated trick’.

“The events in question were all within the rules, either because they took place outdoors or under some other legal exception,” the spokesperson said.

Thames Valley Police said they “received a report of potential breaches of the Health Protection Regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 in Chequers, Buckinghamshire”.

The Met Police issued a similar statement, but said their information related to potential breaches at Downing Street.

Both forces say they are assessing the information received, but it is understood that Mr Johnson has had no contact with the police.

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