UNITED KINGDOM: The Cabinet Office is failing to conceal the Covid inquiry, the unredacted WhatsApp messages from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and 40 top officials, and government-leading accusations that the UK government is responsible for its actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unredacted notebooks, diaries, and WhatsApp messages from Johnson and his assistant Henry Cook have been demanded by the investigation, which is being supervised by retired judge Heather Hallett.
Two weeks remain until the opening of the public hearings, and according to a new schedule made public by the inquiry, some issues, like immunisations, buying, and care facilities, won’t be settled until 2026, after the subsequent election.
The government now has until 4 p.m. on Thursday to provide Hallett with the unredacted information pertaining to Johnson and Cook after being given an additional two days to do so. It is conceivably illegal to refuse to obey the inquiry’s commands.
Sunak asserted on Tuesday that the government was fully aiding the COVID inquiry. The Cabinet Office cited 55,000 documents, 24 individual witness statements, and eight corporate statements provided to the COVID inquiry as evidence.
The government concedes that disclosing declassified notebooks and WhatsApp messages would violate the privacy of officials and ministers and impede the discussion of policy.
The apparent “reluctance” of the government to provide the requested information “seems nonsense,” according to Conservative MP Caroline Nokes. The government’s “dog ate my homework-type excuse” doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, according to the Lib Dems and Labour, who both claimed there was a “whiff of a cover-up” in the case.
After Johnson was reported to authorities last week by Cabinet Office officials after the government-appointed lawyers revealed potential evidence of supplemental lockdown-breaking parties in his diaries, the controversy doesn’t seem to have abated tensions between Sunak’s government and Johnson.
The government is hesitating on the request, though, citing the need to protect the confidentiality of ministers and other government employees.
The government has been accused of a potential cover-up by Labour and the Lib Dems, and relatives of those who perished in the pandemic have interrogated what ministers are attempting to hide.