Update: Cabinet Office Loses Judicial Review and has to disclose WhatsApp messages and other documents to Covid Inquiry by Monday 10 July

Friday 7 July 2023

Tim Baldwin of Garden Court Chambers provides an update on the Covid-19 Inquiry.

See Tim's previous comment here.

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Although permission for judicial review was granted in a rolled up hearing, the Cabinet Office’s claim for judicial review of Baroness Hallett’s issue of a notice for disclosure to the Covid Inquiry of unredacted WnatsApp messages of Mr Boris Johnson, and his notebooks, and Mr Henry Cook, the court dismissed the claim for judicial review. Mr Johnson supported Baroness Hallett’s approach, and Mr Cook remained neutral with written submissions from the Chair of the Scottish Inquiry supporting Baroness Hallett.

In summary, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Garnham in the rolled-up hearing held that (1) the service of the s 21 Inquiries Act 2005 notice issued by Baroness Hallett was valid; (2) Baroness Hallett had acted rationally on issuing the notice and making the ruling in response.

The court did record, however, that the Cabinet Office may respond to the notice by making an application under s 21(4) of the Act that it is unreasonable to produce material which does not relate to a matter in question at the inquiry, and then for Baroness Hallett to rule on the application.

Thus, it appears likely it may rumble on the issue of material which does not relate to the inquiry and further rulings and possible litigation.

The link to the judgment is available to read here.

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