Boris Johnson’s Covid WhatsApps: Former PM 'can't remember' old iphone password

Government officials continue to help the former PM to try to securely retrieve the messages on the device. Credit: PA

WhatsApp messages on Boris Johnson’s old iPhone have still not been handed over to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry because he "can't remember" the password, it has been reported.

According to The Times, the former prime minister has been unable to give the material to the Inquiry, which was required after the government lost its legal bid to prevent their release.

Downing Street said on Monday "all requisite material" had been sent, after it was given a 4pm deadline to comply with a High Court ruling to hand over Mr Johnson's unredacted notebooks, WhatsApp messages and diaries from his time in No 10.

His old phone, containing correspondence from pre-May 2021, was the subject of security concerns, but new reports suggest the issue is that Mr Johnson cannot remember the passcode to get access.

Inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett arriving at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry in London, during its first investigation Credit: Module 1

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson told ITV News that the phone is in the possession of Mr Johnson's lawyers, with government-appointed technical experts now working to recover material safely from the device.

"As previously stated, Mr Johnson will cooperate fully with the Inquiry," added the spokesperson.

"He wants to disclose any relevant material which is why he is fully cooperating with this process."

The Cabinet Office also issued a statement earlier today, confirming the Inquiry has received the materials it requested on April 28.

The former prime minister's lawyer is in possession of the old device. Credit: PA

Mr Johnson was advised to stop using the phone and not access it again on security grounds while serving as Britain’s leader in May 2021, after it emerged his number had been freely available online for 15 years.

The device he used during crucial periods of the coronavirus pandemic likely contains messages relating to the ordering of three lockdowns in 2020.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “In-line with the process set out by the court, the Cabinet Office has provided all of the requested material to the Inquiry.”

The government handed over the rest of the documents after losing a legal challenge.

The former prime minister's lawyer is in possession of the old device. Credit: PA

It had fought the request from inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett to release them, arguing it should not have to hand over material that is “unambiguously irrelevant”.

But the Cabinet Office’s argument was last week dismissed by Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Garnham, who said the fact an order for material would produce “some irrelevant documents” did not “invalidate” it or mean it “cannot be lawfully exercised”.

They said Lady Hallett should be able to examine the documents and if she agrees they are “obviously irrelevant” to her inquiry, she will return them.

Mr Johnson told Lady Hallett last month that he would “like to” pass messages that are on the old phone to the inquiry.

He was believed to have written to the Cabinet Office at the time to ask whether security and technical support could be given to help access its contents without compromising security.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...