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14 Jul, 2023 06:18

Boris Johnson ‘forgets’ iPhone passcode – The Times

The former British prime minister was required to turn over text messages related to the 2020 lockdowns
Boris Johnson ‘forgets’ iPhone passcode – The Times

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to provide WhatsApp messages requested for a government Covid-19 probe because he forgot the password to his old cell phone, The Times reported on Thursday.

Sources told the newspaper that Johnson cannot remember the passcode “with 100% confidence,” as he last used the device in 2021, while he was still prime minister. However, a representative for the former leader said he is eager to hand over the information. 

“As previously stated, Mr. Johnson will cooperate fully with the inquiry. He wants to disclose any relevant material which is why he is fully cooperating with this process,” the spokesperson told The Guardian on Thursday.

While the UK Cabinet Office said it is looking to see if the password is on record, there are concerns that Johnson’s old iPhone could automatically erase its contents if the wrong code is entered, The Times said. The office was previously ordered to comply with a High Court ruling to hand over all of Johnson’s WhatsApp messages, diaries and unredacted notebooks by Monday as part of a Covid-19 investigation. 

Dating back to the height of the pandemic, Johnson’s records are thought to contain discussions about the lockdowns he imposed in 2020, among other Covid-related policies. Investigators have also sought other information on the former prime minister’s affairs, including how he funded £200,000 ($262,000) in renovations at his Downing Street apartment while still in office. 

The Cabinet Office previously opposed the demand for Johnson’s communications, calling them “unambiguously irrelevant” to the probe, but lost its legal challenge last week. Besides the WhatsApp messages, it has since provided the rest of the material sought for the inquiry.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, a pressure group which helped to push for a public investigation into the government’s pandemic response, called Johnson’s excuse “a complete joke.”

“No one seriously believes that Johnson’s messages can’t be accessed because he forgot a passcode that he was apparently using last December,” it said, adding that the former premier “needs to take full responsibility for ensuring that these messages are shared in their entirety with the inquiry, and the inquiry must be prepared to take legal action against him if he doesn’t.”

Johnson stopped using the iPhone in question in 2021 after it was found that its number had been publicly available for more than 15 years. The device is now in the possession of Johnson’s lawyers, who have granted access to government security experts in hopes of preserving its data if the correct password cannot be found.