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UK: Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp chats may be obtained through legal action following the Covid breach inquiry

The cross-party inquiry into whether Boris Johnson breached the ministerial code over the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening legal action to access the Prime Minister’s WhatsApp messages. The inquiry, led by former cabinet secretary Lord Glynn, has formally requested that Mr Johnson provide images of any WhatsApp messages exchanged with key figures in order to assess their impact on Government policies.

However, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said there had been no response to the request, and no indication that any action would be taken. As a result, the inquiry has now indicated that they may take legal action to obtain the messages, if they can establish that such a move is necessary to carry out their public duty.

The inquiry was set up to investigate whether the Prime Minister and/or his advisers – including senior aide Dominic Cummings – had breached the ministerial code during the pandemic, or failed to act in accordance with it. In particular, it is looking at whether Mr Johnson was sufficiently open and transparent about interacting with “crony capitalists” outside the usual official channels. The committee has publicly requested that if Mr Johnson or his aides cannot remember certain conversations, that images of any WhatsApp messages exchanged be provided.

Should the inquiry take its proposed legal action, it could set a precedent for researchers and journalists to demand access to the Prime Minister’s messages in the future.