THE UK Government is to take the official Covid Inquiry to court in a bid to keep Boris Johnson's messages secret. 

The Cabinet Office said they regretted having to take legal action and insisted they would still “continue to co-operate fully” with the probe into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

However, they said the demand for “unambiguously irrelevant material” went “beyond the powers of the inquiry.”

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Baroness Hallett, who chairs the public inquiry, had seat a deadline of 4pm on Thursday for the UK Government to hand over Mr Johnson’s WhatsApp messages, diaries and personal notebooks. 

She also asked for texts from Henry Cook, one of his aides at No 10.

Mr Johnson had agreed to hand these over to the Cabinet Office, however, the department did not pass them on as they fear it could set a precedent.

They worry it may result in Lady Hallett requesting the WhatsApp messages of serving ministers, including Rishi Sunak.

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In their letter to the inquiry, the Government said there was a “jurisdictional issue” which needed to be “determined by the courts.”

“Specifically whether the inquiry has the power to compel production of documents and messages which are unambiguously irrelevant to the inquiry’s work, including personal communications and matters unconnected to the Government’s handling of Covid.

“We consider there to be important issues of principle at stake here, affecting both the rights of individuals and the proper conduct of government. 

“The request for unambiguously irrelevant material goes beyond the powers of the inquiry.

“Individuals, junior officials, current and former ministers and departments should not be required to provide material that is irrelevant to the inquiry’s work. It represents an unwarranted intrusion into other aspects of the work of government.

“It also represents an intrusion into their legitimate expectations of privacy and protection of their personal information.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson puts pressure on Rishi Sunak over Covid inquiry evidence

The decision for a government to legally challenge a public inquiry that it set up is unprecedented.

A spokesman for the Covid-19 inquiry said: “At 4pm today the chair of the UK Covid-19 public inquiry was served a copy of a claim form by the Cabinet Office seeking to commence judicial review proceedings against the chair’s ruling of May 22 2023.

“Further information will be provided at the module two preliminary hearing at 10.30am on Tuesday June 6.”

The Lib Dems described the Government’s decision to seek a judicial review as a “cowardly attempt to obstruct a vital public inquiry."

The party's deputy leader, Daisy Cooper said it would be a "kick in the teeth for bereaved families who’ve already waited far too long for answers."

She added: “Rishi Sunak’s promise to govern with integrity and accountability has been left in tatters.

“The Government is delaying the inquiry even further and clogging up court time, all to prevent Sunak and his Conservative colleagues from having to release their messages.”