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

Boris Johnson has been warned by Whitehall that he may 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 may 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 supply will stop to be out there to you in case you knowingly search to frustrate or undermine, both by way of 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 subject,” 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, regardless that 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 in search of to problem the calls for through a judicial evaluate.

However Johnson mentioned he was “unwilling” to let his materials turn into “a take a look at 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 also be requested at hand over their unredacted messages at a future date.

The Cupboard Workplace letter, extracts of which have been revealed within the Sunday Occasions, mentioned the authorized assist funding would “solely stay out there” 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 applicable officers”.

Johnson has up to now not offered WhatsApp messages that predate Might 2021 as a result of he acquired a brand new telephone in April 2021 after a safety breach. He has supplied at hand over materials on that system 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 assist the Covid inquiry and for no different function.

“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 meant to guard public funds. It on no account prevents Mr Johnson from offering no matter proof he desires to.”

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