Boris Johnson ditches government-appointed lawyers for Covid inquiry

  • By Becky Morton
  • Political Correspondent

image source, Good pictures

Boris Johnson will no longer work with government-appointed lawyers for the Covid inquiry after being referred to the police over possible further breaches during the pandemic.

Associates of the former prime minister said he had lost all faith in the cabinet office.

The Cabinet Office said officials are obliged to release the documents under civil service rules.

Number 10 said that neither the ministers nor the prime minister were involved in the decision.

Mr Johnson is said to have sent material to the police, lost faith in the objectivity of leadership in the Cabinet Office and lost ministerial and official confidence.

He will now hire new lawyers to represent him in the taxpayer-funded trial.

Meanwhile, a row has erupted between the Covid inquiry and the Cabinet Office over the release of Mr Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and diary entries. According to newly released documents.

Crossbench peer Baroness Hallett, who chaired the inquiry, demanded the Cabinet Office hand over the unredacted material, saying failure to do so would constitute a criminal offence.

But the Cabinet Office has challenged the application, saying some matters were “vaguely irrelevant” to the inquiry.

image source, Cabinet Office/ PA

image caption,

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have both been fined for attending birthday parties in Downing Street

The Times, The story was first reportedMr Johnson says he was referred to Thames Valley Police because his ministerial diary shows family and friends visiting Checkers – the Prime Minister’s country home in Buckinghamshire – during the pandemic.

But a spokesman for Mr Johnson has dismissed any claims of breaches as a “politically motivated ploy”.

“All of the events in question were within the rules because they were held outdoors or fell within another legal exception,” the spokesman said.

Thames Valley Police said it “received a report of possible breaches of healthcare regulations at Checkers in Buckinghamshire between June 2020 and May 2021”.

The Met Police issued a similar statement but referred to Downing Street as their information regarding possible breaches.

Both forces say they are assessing the information received, but it is understood Mr Johnson has had no contact from the police.

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