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  • Cabinet Office criticised for refusing to hand over unredacted messages from Boris Johnson and his advisers
  • British public deserves openness and transparency, says union body

The TUC today (Wednesday) called on the government not to withhold evidence from the Covid Public Inquiry.

The call comes after the chair of the inquiry, Baroness Hallet, criticised the Cabinet Office for refusing to hand over unredacted WhatsApp messages from Boris Johnson and his advisers.

Baroness Hallet ordered the messages be provided in full.

TUC Assistant General Secretary, Kate Bell said:

“The Covid pandemic impacted every single person in the UK, including millions of workers who put their lives on the line.

“The very least we all deserve is openness and transparency from those who took the decisions. 

“The lessons we need to learn from this pandemic are too important for the government to play politics with. It must cooperate fully.” 

The TUC has core participant status in the inquiry. It will be giving evidence on the UK’s pandemic preparedness when the inquiry’s first module begins on June 13.

Timeline of controversy

On April 28 the Chair of the Covid-19 inquiry, Baroness Hallet, issued the Cabinet Office with a Section 21 notice.

This notice instructed the Cabinet Office to hand over unredacted WhatsApp messages exchanged between Boris Johnson and his adviser Henry Cook with cabinet ministers and leading officials.

The Cabinet Office had claimed the redactions that had been made contained nothing of relevance and appealed this decision.

Baroness Hallet firmly rejected the appeal.

The redacted WhatsApp messages included discussions between the Prime Minister and his advisers about the enforcement of Covid regulations by the Metropolitan Police during the public demonstrations following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Baroness Hallet described the Cabinet Office’s approach as “not a promising start”.

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