Boris Johnson claims the Cabinet Office is refusing to return his notebooks from his time as Prime Minister over fears he would pass them to the Covid Inquiry.
Speaking for the first time since standing down as an MP, the former prime minister said the Cabinet Office was “foot-dragging” and accused it of wasting “public time and money”.
The Cabinet Office has begun a judicial review and seeks to prevent the release to the inquiry of any material it considers to be “unambiguously irrelevant” and which could compromise ministers’ private lives.
Last week, it told the inquiry Mr Johnson could undermine the review if he released his messages unilaterally.
In his first intervention since resigning as an MP, he told The Times: “The Cabinet Office has blocked me from directly sharing unredacted material with the inquiry despite my repeated attempts to do so.
“The Government wants the whole matter to be decided by the courts, even though government ministers are on record saying litigation is pointless.
“The Cabinet Office’s foot-dragging approach is costing time and money.
“We must explore what happened during Covid … and the Government’s position is now, in my view, frustrating the inquiry’s work.”
Baroness Hallett, chairing the inquiry, had told the Cabinet Office to report on its position on handing over Mr Johnson’s notes and WhatsApps.
Last week, the Cabinet Office admitted that it did not know what its position was on disclosing government messages to the inquiry, and lawyers revealed that the Foreign Office had also not complied with its requests.
Hugo Keith KC, counsel for the inquiry, said within days the team would take the notebooks directly from Mr Johnson and compare them with redacted versions from the Cabinet Office they already have.
The row comes as the inquiry prepares to hear its first evidence this week, two years after it was announced.
One of the inquiry’s six modules is planning to examine “Do Not Resuscitate” orders after a number of bereaved families reported their experiences to the inquiry.