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The Covid inquiry has a fiendishly tough question on its hands: Can it trust Boris Johnson?

Who would ever be a politician ever again if all of your private messages are just going to be sent to a public inquiry and then published, presumably to great embarrassment?

Wednesday 31 May 2023 11:06 BST
Boris Johnson is still causing problems for Rishi Sunak
Boris Johnson is still causing problems for Rishi Sunak (Reuters)

In her more than half a century-long career as one of the country’s most distinguished criminal lawyers, you have to suspect that the Covid inquiry chair Baroness Hallett has had to contend with rather trickier conundrums than the one she currently faces. Which is this: do you trust Boris Johnson?

This is the question that’s making life difficult in Downing Street, as well as in wherever Johnson himself is currently hanging out (he spent the weekend at a summer fete in Henley, where he continues to deny he intends to stand for election next year, a lie so ridiculous it’s barely even a lie, at least not on his scale). But it’s not, one has to think, making life very difficult for Baroness Hallett.

She has requested the prime minister and indeed other cabinet members’ WhatsApp messages be submitted to her inquiry in their entirety. But Johnson, and indeed others, do not want to comply. Large numbers of said messages have been ruled, by the Cabinet Office, which ultimately reports to the prime minister, to be “unambiguously irrelevant” and thus will not be submitted and be made public.

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