The British government wants to have a judge assess whether it is mandatory to share app messages from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a committee investigating the UK’s handling of the coronavirus. The government has missed the deadline to hand over those messages and does not appear to have any intention of sharing them.
The government states that it takes this legal step “with regret” but emphasizes its willingness to fully cooperate with the investigation as the court looks into this matter. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says that this concerns “the rights of individuals and the proper conduct of the government.” British media speculate that the government does not want to hand over the app messages because they may contain incriminating information about ministers or because the government fears that other ministers may be asked to surrender their messages as well.
On Wednesday, Johnson stated that he had provided all the necessary documents to the government, which should then pass them on to the committee. The committee had ordered the submission of all relevant WhatsApp messages, notebooks, and diaries. The government claims to have already handed over more than 55,000 documents, but according to the committee, they are still incomplete.
A spokesperson for Johnson expresses hope that the government will share everything with the investigative committee as soon as possible. The British opposition also strongly criticizes the Conservative government for refusing to hand over the documents.