DOWNING Street last night denied a cover-up as a deadline to hand over WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry was extended by 48 hours.
The Cabinet Office was given until 4pm tomorrow to turn over tens of thousands of unredacted Boris Johnson texts.
Mr Johnson said he had no objection to disclosing the material to Baroness Hallett’s inquiry but claimed no one had asked him for it[/caption]
The request covers exchanges between the former Prime Minister and 40 others as well as his personal diaries.
Mr Johnson said he had no objection to disclosing the material to Baroness Hallett’s inquiry but claimed no one had asked him for it.
PM Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, insisted the Government was acting “in a spirit of transparency and candour”.
His spokesman flatly denied any suggestion of a cover-up, adding: “We want to learn the lessons about the actions of the state during the pandemic.”
Yet last night the Cabinet Office repeated its threat to block the handing over of some of the material.
It said: “We are firmly of the view that the inquiry does not have the power to request unambiguously irrelevant information that is beyond the scope of this investigation.
“This includes the WhatsApp messages of Government employees which are not about work but instead are entirely personal and relate to their private lives.”
A Labour spokesman said last night “The fact the Covid inquiry has invoked legal powers to compel the handover of crucial documents in the face of legal battles and delaying tactics shows this is a Government with much to hide.”
The inquiry will begin in autumn and is expected to last until at least 2026.