Let’s hope the Covid inquiry has more luck than Lord Geidt; he only found out that Boris Johnson had lied to him about the infamous Downing Street refurbishment after WhatsApp messages Johnson had kept from him became public knowledge.
Johnson claimed he had changed his phone altogether in order to avoid responsibility for failing to pass on WhatsApp messages about the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
Unluckily for him, messages sent using services such as WhatsApp are stored on a cloud server – not the recipient’s device(s) – and may be recovered by the authorities under circumstances including a legal investigation.
And who can forget the time Johnson, as ultimate arbiter of whether anybody has broken the Ministerial Code, used WhatsApp to urge Tory MPs to “form a square around the Prittster” when Priti Patel was accused of bullying civil servants?
On the other hand, will we finally receive confirmation that, in March 2020, Johnson wrote a WhatsApp message saying then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock was “totally f***ing hopeless”?
Will we finally find out whether Johnson inadvertently threatened the life of the then-Queen (Elizabeth II) by trying to visit her at the height of the Covid-19 crisis?
He had already mentioned on WhatsApp that he was unwilling to go back into lockdown in autumn 2020 because he considered Covid-19 only to be fatal to people aged over 80 – who have therefore lived longer than national life expectancy.
“So get COVID and live longer,” was the typically-insensitive Johnson remark.
This did not deter him from wanting to go and see the Queen for their weekly meeting, until he was reminded that she was over 80 and therefore entirely likely to die if he passed the disease on to her.
Will we see the actual messages – rather than Dominic Cummings’s screenshots – that show Johnson used WhatsApp to make decisions on the procurement of ventilators and on Covid-19 testing in care homes?
Or will Johnson have already used auto-delete software to remove evidence of the decision-making carried out on WhatsApp, after judges at the High Court said it was not illegal to do so?
I refer of course to the Covid-19 Inquiry’s request for posts to a 10 Downing Street WhatsApp group to be submitted to it as formal evidence.
Module 2 of the Inquiry will examine political decision-making in Westminster during the pandemic.
Given Johnson’s apparent reluctance to provide the damning details, it’s probably just as well that a further preliminary hearing for the module will take place in early 2023, with public hearings starting in the summer.
Perhaps by then, the required WhatsApp messages will have been provided…
Or maybe the Inquiry will have raided the cloud on which they’re stored.
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