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 help 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 gives 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 when you knowingly search to frustrate or undermine, both by means of your individual actions or the actions of others, the federal government’s place in relation to the inquiry except there’s a clear and irreconcilable battle of curiosity on a specific level at situation,” 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 Could 2021, regardless that the federal government has launched a authorized problem over the method.

The Cupboard Workplace mentioned among the materials demanded by the inquiry, headed by Girl Heather Hallett, was “unambiguously irrelevant” and is searching for to problem the calls for through a judicial evaluate.

However Johnson mentioned 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 have been revealed within the Sunday Occasions, mentioned the authorized help funding would “solely stay out there” if Johnson complied with sure circumstances, together with sending the Cupboard Workplace “any witness assertion or exhibit which you plan to offer to the inquiry in order that it may be safety checked by acceptable officers”.

Johnson has to date not offered WhatsApp messages that predate Could 2021 as a result of he acquired a brand new telephone in April 2021 after a safety breach. He has supplied handy over materials on that system if safety consultants deem it secure to take action.

In an announcement, the Cupboard Workplace mentioned its letter was not an try to forestall Johnson from totally aiding the inquiry.

The Cupboard Workplace mentioned: “This letter from officers merely reiterates that taxpayer-funded attorneys have to be used to help 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 irrespective of the views of the present authorities.

“This letter was meant to guard public funds. It under no circumstances prevents Mr Johnson from offering no matter proof he needs to.”

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