The Coronavirus inquiry is demanding that the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson goes beyond the already 55,000 documents and 24 witness statements which the government has handed over and could be breaking the law if not.
If the 4pm deadline set by Baroness Hallett was not met then Adam Wagner QC, claimed that is the government didn’t comply in full then criminal proceedings could be taken.
Hallett warned that failure to comply with her demand to release the material under the Inquiries Act would amount to a criminal offence.
4pm deadline extended
However, Ministers have been given two more days to hand over unredacted messages from Boris Johnson to the official Covid inquiry after refusing to meet a deadline of 4pm today.
The Cabinet Office had been unwilling to meet the time limit set by the investigation into how the pandemic was handled to to release, in full, the ex-prime minister’s WhatsApp conversations and diaries.
The previous deadline had been 4pm today, but after a request to delay it for a week until 5 June, the chair of the inquiry has granted a “short extension” until 4pm on Thursday.
Rishi Sunak told Sky News: “The govt has handed over tens of thousands of documents… ”
Lord Falconer(former Lord Chancellor) – replied: “The govt say they’ve given 55,000 documents already, & people often say that when they’re trying to cover stuff up… & they avoid giving the key material..”
Anthony Seldon told Sky News: “Boris Johnson was the worst PM in 100 years & he was in charge during the worst epidemic in 100 years.. the public have the absolute right to know what happened… so the covid enquiry needs to be given what they want.. it’s not going to be pretty.”
Government breaking the law
Adam Wagner KC told sky news: “If the 4pm deadline passes & the government decides it’s not going to comply in full with Baroness Hallett’s ruling, then in theory they could be committing a criminal offence… & criminal proceedings could be taken… “