In the ongoing saga of the COVID-19 pandemic and its political fallout, a new chapter has emerged, shrouded in digital fog and unanswered questions.

A t its heart lies a tale of missing WhatsApp messages, vanished evidence, and a potential £40,000 bill for answers. This is the story of Penny Mordaunt, a former Cabinet minister, and her baffling encounter with a phone seemingly possessed by digital phantoms.

The plot thickens with Boris Johnson, the former Prime Minister, who told the COVID Public Inquiry he had lost 5,000 WhatsApp messages from a crucial period in early 2020. This convenient amnesia covered the months when the UK grappled with the first wave of the pandemic, making crucial decisions that affected millions.

Mordaunt, once Johnson’s Paymaster General, found herself drawn into the vortex of missing messages. Prompted by media reports in May 2021, she attempted to revisit a specific WhatsApp exchange with Johnson from February 2020 concerning the protection of care homes during the pandemic. To her bewilderment, the message, along with the entire record of communication between her and Johnson from March 2018 to March 2020, had vanished.

This wasn’t a simple case of accidental deletion. Johnson had switched phone numbers after a security breach exposed his personal contact. Was this the culprit? Mordaunt remained unsure, troubled by the incomplete picture. In her written statement to the inquiry, she said that her private secretary relentlessly pursued answers from Downing Street, only to be met with speculation and a deafening silence from Johnson’s chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield.


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