(Bloomberg) -- Rishi Sunak’s government is standing by its effort to limit the scope of material to be handed over to an official inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s appropriate to “set reasonable parameters” on disclosure and not be forced to hand over documents that “have nothing to do with Covid,” Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said Sunday on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, citing common legal practice.
The government isn’t asking for “special treatment,” Jenrick said of a controversy that’s thrust the coronavirus pandemic back onto the front page of UK newspapers.
“We will hand over to the inquiry absolutely anything that is related to Covid or the purpose of the inquiry. That’s the right thing to do,” Jenrick said separately on the BBC’s “Sunday with Laura Kuennsberg.”
The government has refused to hand over documents that it argues are “unambiguously irrelevant” to the official probe into how ministers and officials handled the coronavirus outbreak that started in 2020 and is associated with the deaths of more than 250,000 people in the UK.
Separately, the Financial Times reported Sunday that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been warned he could lose publicly funded legal support if he undermines the government’s position on the inquiry.
Read more: Sunak Refuses to Hand Over WhatsApp Texts to UK Covid Probe
Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and so-called pandemic diaries are among the documents that Sunak’s administration has sought to withhold, yet the former PM said Friday he would provide copies of his Covid-era WhatsApp messages directly to the inquiry.
“I am not willing to let my material become a test case for others when I am perfectly content for the inquiry to see it,” Johnson said in a letter to Heather Hallett, the retired judge who’s leading the inquiry.
Johnson is at liberty to send his messages, but since he’s getting taxpayer funded legal support, those funds should be used “appropriately,” Jenrick said on Sky.
Read more: Sunak Finds Himself Drawn Into the One Feud He Hoped to Avoid
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