LONDON — Boris Johnson has been unable to give key WhatsApps to the U.K.’s official coronavirus inquiry because he cannot remember the passcode to his old iPhone, it was reported Thursday.
According to the Times of London, the ex-PM doesn’t remember with “100 percent confidence” the code to access his former device, which he stopped using in May 2021 amid security concerns. A spokesperson for Johnson did not dispute the paper’s account.
The Times reported that there are concerns the device will automatically disable and potentially erase its contents if the wrong code is entered.
The U.K.’s COVID inquiry has requested all of Johnson’s pandemic WhatsApps and diaries. The Cabinet Office challenged the inquiry’s demand — claiming the material was “unambiguously irrelevant” — but lost their legal challenge last week.
The government was given until 4 p.m. last Monday to hand over all material to the inquiry. But much of the material relevant to Johnson is on his old, currently inaccessible, mobile.
The phone has been turned off and securely locked away since May 2021, after the Popbitch newsletter revealed his phone number had been publicly available online for 15 years. The phone is now held by Johnson’s lawyers, while the former PM has asked government security experts to assist with accessing its contents.
“The government’s own appointed technical experts continue to work to recover material safely from the device. As previously stated, Mr Johnson will cooperate fully with the inquiry,” a spokesperson for the former PM said Thursday.
“He wants to disclose any relevant material which is why he is fully cooperating with this process,” Johnson’s spokesperson added.
According to the Times, the Cabinet Office is checking whether it has a record of Johnson’s forgotten passcode.