Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024

Boris Johnson sacks lawyers over police leak while threatening to sue Government

Jacob Rees-Mogg defends 'diligent' Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has declared no confidence in the Cabinet Office, after being stitched up and referred to the police over diary entries purportedly showing he broke lockdown laws at Chequers.

Mr Johnson and his allies have spent the day going to war with the Cabinet Office, including civil servants, officials and ministers – including the Deputy Prime Minister himself, Oliver Dowden.

This afternoon, Boris Johnson formally sacked the Cabinet Office lawyers aiding him, after they flagged concerns over entries in his official diary to the civil service, who then passed their concerns onto the police.

The police have confirmed receipt of the information, but are not investigating.

Mr Johnson is now going to put together his own legal team, albeit still funded by the taxpayer.

This morning The Express revealed Mr Johnson’s MP allies were accusing Oliver Dowden, the Prime Minister’s right-hand man in Government, of personal involvement in the police referral, with one calling him: “a compliant tool of the blob”.

Another ally warned that Mr Dowden “will be held to account”.

Many Boris allies believe the latest move constitutes the final straw for Mr Sunak.

It’s reported they are now plotting no-confidence letters over the matter, meeting today to “consider options” of how to stop the witch hunt.

One option could be MPs who have been nominated for peerages by Mr Johnson quitting sooner rather than later, forcing Mr Sunak to fight multiple by-elections that would prove difficult to win given the current polls.

Such a move would impact Mr Sunak’s authority in the Tory party.

Mr Johnson has threatened to sue the Cabinet Office for the Covid stitch-up, with a friend of the former PM saying he was “seriously considering” legal action.

“It appears the Cabinet office has written to the privileges committee claiming that these events constitute lockdown breaches. That is not true and it is seriously defamatory.”

If Mr Johnson does sue the Cabinet Office, he won’t be the only one.

This lunchtime the chairwoman of the official Covid Inquiry – the inquiry Mr Johnson was preparing for with his now-sacked lawyers – also threatened to sue the Cabinet Office, after the top Government department refused to hand over Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and 24 diaries from his time in Downing Street.

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Baroness Hallett demanded the messages, saying the “entire contents” are “politically relevant”.

The Cabinet Office argued back, insisting much of Mr Johnson’s text message records are “unambiguously irrelevant” and could reveal personal details and details of other government business beyond the scope of the inquiry.

Baroness Hallett warned the department that refusal to hand the materials over is “a criminal offence, punishable on summary conviction with a fine not exceeding £1,000 and/or imprisonment for a maximum of 51 weeks”.

This morning a Cabinet Office spokesperson was trying to firefight Mr Johnson’s allegations of a political stitch-up, saying the material they handed over from his lawyers was never investigated by civil servants.

They claimed no political officials – including ministers, special advisors, the Prime Minister nor Simon Case the Cabinet Secretary – had any involvement with the materials before handing them over to the police, and they were just following the Civil Service Code.

A Cabinet Office source also accused the statement from Mr Johnson’s office last night, accusing the development of being a politically-motivated stitch-up, of containing inaccuracies, something Mr Johnson’s spokesman rejected.

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