Boris Johnson has been warned that he could lose public funding for legal advice if he tries to "frustrate or undermine" the government's position on the Covid-19 inquiry.
Cabinet Office lawyers told Johnson
that funding would "cease to be available" if he breaks conditions such as releasing evidence without permission.
has been at the center of a row as ministers launched a high court bid to challenge the inquiry's demand for his unredacted WhatsApp messages and contemporaneous notebooks.
He said he would send all his messages to the official investigation directly, circumventing the Cabinet Office.
The Cabinet Office lawyers sent a letter to Johnson
last week stating that funding would only remain available if he complied with conditions such as 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." Johnson
wrote to the inquiry's chair, Heather Hallett, saying he was sending all the unredacted WhatsApps he had given to the Cabinet Office and added that he wanted to send messages pre-dating April 2021 but was told he could no longer access his phone from that period "safely." Security concerns were raised over the phone in 2021 after it emerged that the number had been available on the internet for 15 years.
The messages received before this date would cover discussions before May 2021 including those concerning the three national lockdowns he ordered.
said he wanted to "test" the advice received from the security services and had asked the Cabinet Office for assistance in turning his old phone on securely.
The Cabinet Office missed Lady Hallett's deadline set on Thursday to hand over the requested material.
The government department has been trying to resist the publication of messages it believes are "unambiguously irrelevant." The main points of the article are that Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, has accused Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of trying to obstruct the Covid
inquiry by incurring yet another legal bill that taxpayers will have to pay for.
The article suggests that the public will be outraged by this action, which is seen as an attempt to avoid accountability for the government's handling of the pandemic.