High Court to hear legal challenges over use of WhatsApp by ministers

Campaign groups All the Citizens and the Good Law Project have both brought claims

22 March 2022

The High Court is due to hear two legal challenges over the use of WhatsApp and other messaging apps by ministers.

Campaign groups All the Citizens and the Good Law Project have both brought claims related to the use of the programs, including over deleting messages and the use of private accounts for government business.

In a hearing in October last year, All the Citizens argued that the use of the instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Signal that allow messages to automatically be deleted for government business is unlawful.

In their claim against the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Cabinet Office, the group also argued that there was a previously undisclosed policy which required messages sent on the instant messaging services to be deleted.

In their separate claim against Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Good Law Project is expected to argue over the use of non-Government communication channels.

As part of a different claim over millions of pounds’ worth of antibody test contracts, the Good Law Project previously asked the High Court to order searches of former health secretary Matt Hancock’s Government email accounts and his “non-Government communications systems” used for Government business – thought to include WhatsApps.

The claims are due to be heard over three days before Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Johnson, with a decision expected at a later date.

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