The Government has launched a court battle to avoid having to hand over to the Covid inquiry full details of the WhatsApp messages sent by dozens of ministers and officials including Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

The Cabinet Office wrote to the inquiry team on Thursday afternoon formally refusing the request for an unredacted copy of communications from the time of the pandemic.

It is now seeking a judicial review of the initial request, made by inquiry chair Baroness Hallett, in order to justify keeping “irrelevant” material secret.

The inquiry is set to respond to the Government early next week. Legal experts have said that the Cabinet Office’s judicial review is unlikely to succeed.

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