Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will try to use the conference to rejuvenate his flagging Tories
UK's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. AFP News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has failed to provide his WhatsApp messages to the inquiry committee examining the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PM was supposed to hand over the messages from his time as chancellor to the inquiry committee probing the government's handling of the pandemic.

The inquiry, chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, was ordered by the government itself in 2021. It had ordered the government to hand over key communications sent between January 2020 and February 2022, per a report by The Guardian.

Sunak has said that he does not have the messages from the time because he had to change his mobile several times and failed to back them up.

So far, the government has only submitted incomplete versions of the documents, asserting that personal and private information unrelated to the inquiry has been redacted. Hallett, however, insists that the entirety of the specified documents is potentially relevant to the lines of investigation pursued by the inquiry.

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to resign from his position last year following the "Partygate" controversy. Several photos emerged of him drinking at a Downing Street party during the lockdown in 2020. He came under fire for breaking COVID-19 protocols and was forced to quit eventually.

He was even fined by the police for attending an event celebrating his birthday in June 2020. He is currently being investigated by a parliamentary committee to ascertain whether he misled the House of Commons about COVID rule violations.

The former prime minister maintains that he did not mislead Parliament during the pandemic. He was forced to hand over pandemic-era WhatsApp messages and notebooks to the government. The current government has also come under fire for not handing over those messages to the inquiry committee.

The messages and notebooks contain details of the decisions taken by the government when Johnson was prime minister. Failure to comply with the request by retired judge Hallett may lead to legal action against the Rishi Sunak government.

Earlier this year, Johnson's former health secretary, Matt Hancock, became the centre of a massive controversy after it came to light that he allegedly failed to follow advice on COVID-19 testing.

Thousands of WhatsApp messages were leaked to the Daily Telegraph, showing that Hancock did not heed the advice given by England's Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, about testing everyone who goes into care homes in April 2020.

Instead of testing all the people going into care homes, Hancock decided to make it mandatory to test only those entering care homes from hospitals. Testing for everyone was made mandatory only in August 2020, by then the situation had already escalated.

The messages that became public revealed how the UK government handled COVID-19. Hancock, too, was forced to resign for mishandling the pandemic.