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 offers to the previous prime minister if he undermines the federal government’s dealing with of the inquiry.

“The funding provide will stop to be obtainable to you when you knowingly search to frustrate or undermine, both by your personal 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 selected level at subject,” the letter stated.

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 stated a few 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 assessment.

However Johnson stated 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 also be requested handy over their unredacted messages at a future date.

The Cupboard Workplace letter, extracts of which had been revealed within the Sunday Instances, stated the authorized assist funding would “solely stay obtainable” 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 up to now 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 supplied handy over materials on that machine if safety consultants deem it secure to take action.

In a press release, the Cupboard Workplace stated its letter was not an try to stop Johnson from totally aiding the inquiry.

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

“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 under no circumstances prevents Mr Johnson from offering no matter proof he needs to.”

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