Boris Johnson might have funding for his authorized recommendation pulled if he “undermines the government’s position” or releases proof with out permission, the Cabinet Office has mentioned.
The former prime minister was informed in a letter final week that cash would “cease to be available” if he broke any of their situations.
The Cabinet Office has mentioned the letter makes clear “Mr Johnson has a duty to provide sincere witness,” to the inquiry, which might embrace him sending witness statements and requested paperwork.
The letter, reported within the Sunday Times, was mentioned to not be in response to “any recent event”. It, nevertheless, follows ministers launching a High Court bid to problem the inquiry’s demand for his unredacted WhatsApp messages and notebooks.
Mr Johnson introduced in May 2021 there could be an inquiry into the federal government’s preparation and administration of the Covid-19 disaster. The results of the investigation has seen authorized groups look by way of 1000’s of paperwork. It might be revealing with loads of questions unanswered and the reputations of these concerned at stake.
The Cabinet Office’s stress to cooperate might proceed an already rocky street ahead for Mr Johnson with the Sunday Times suggesting he could have already got fallen foul of its necessities.
Mr Johnson had vowed to ship all his messages to the official investigation straight, bypassing the Cabinet Office and Rishi Sunak.
A Cabinet Office assertion despatched to The Independent learn: “This letter from officials simply reiterates that taxpayer-funded lawyers must be used to aid the Covid Inquiry and for no other purpose.
“The letter makes clear Mr Johnson has a duty to provide sincere witness to the inquiry independently and without reference to the views of the current government.
“This letter was intended to protect public funds. It in no way prevents Mr Johnson from providing whatever evidence he wants to.”
The workplace added that the letter, which was despatched final week, was not seen or signed off by ministers.
The letter reportedly said: “The funding offer will cease to be available to you if you knowingly seek to frustrate or undermine, either through your own actions or the actions of others, the government’s position in relation to the inquiry unless there is a clear and irreconcilable conflict of interest on a particular point at issue.”
It added that funding would “only remain available” if he complied with situations equivalent to sending the Cabinet Office “any witness statement or exhibit which you intend to provide to the inquiry so that it can be security checked by appropriate officials”.
Former tradition secretary Nadine Dorries, a staunch ally of Mr Johnson, mentioned it was “not a good look for the government”.
“All evidence provided should be unfettered and not restricted by gov censorship – whatever form that may take,” she tweeted.
Tory donor Lord Cruddas, an outspoken backer of Mr Johnson, urged the MP to not be “held to ransom” by the risk.
“Don’t worry @BorisJohnson I can easily get your legal fees funded by supporters and crowd funding, it’s easy,” he tweeted.
After the federal government launched its authorized battle, Mr Johnson wrote to the inquiry’s chairperson, Baroness Hallett, saying he was sending all of the unredacted WhatsApps he had given to the Cabinet Office.
He mentioned he wish to do the identical for the messages on an outdated telephone he was informed to not use after it emerged the quantity had been obtainable on-line for 15 years.
That system will probably be essential, containing discussions earlier than May 2021 together with across the three nationwide lockdowns he ordered.
Mr Johnson informed the chairperson that he was “not willing to let my material become a test case for others when I am perfectly content for the inquiry to see it”.
The Cabinet Office missed Lady Hallett’s deadline set on Thursday at hand over the requested materials.
But the federal government division has been attempting to withstand the publication of messages it believes are “unambiguously irrelevant”.