No 10 launches leak inquiry into Dyson texts - 24 hours after saying probe was not needed

Downing Street has launched an investigation into how the Prime Minister’s private text messages with a billionaire businessman made their way to journalists having previously said no such probe was needed.

No 10 said yesterday there would be no investigations into how messages between Boris Johnson and Sir James Dyson became public.

But 24 hours later Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said “the position has changed from yesterday” and said the Cabinet Office had been instructed to start an inquiry.

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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “As usual we keep these things under review and we've now decided to undertake this internal inquiry.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during PMQs. Photo: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament

And he added: “As you would expect, we continually look at this and the position we decided today is that we want to make sure we have this internal inquiry into that.”

He said the inquiry would only be concerned with the messages to Sir James and would not extend to previously reported exchanges with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had tried to get the PM to help with the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United.

It comes after another leak inquiry was launched by the Cabinet Office in November after newspapers found out about the national lockdown for England before it was officially announced.

No 10 said today there was no more information on how that inquiry was going.

Asked whether Mr Johnson would change the way he communicates, his spokesman added: “The Prime Minister communicates with people in a number of ways, I think what's important as I keep stressing is that he follows the correct guidance and rules.”.

It is understood the messages were passed to a small number of senior aides after they were exchnaged last year.

Mr Johnson promised entrepreneur Sir James Dyson, via text messages, he would “fix” an issue over the tax status of his employees after he was directly lobbied by the billionaire.

Yesterday, he told Prime Minister’s Questions he made “absolutely no apology” for responding to Sir James in a bid to secure ventilators.

He added that he had “nothing to conceal” and would be willing to share “all the details” with the Commons.

Downing Street said it will publish correspondence between Mr Johnson and Sir James “shortly”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister said in the House he’s happy to share all the details with the House, as he shared them with his officials.

“That’s what we’re working on, we’re pulling together that information, it will be published shortly.”

And Jacob Rees-Mogg today insisted that correspondence connected to Covid-19 contracts will be published.

The Commons Leader told MPs a “proper process of transparency” was taking place when quizzed over the timeline for details of the Prime Minister’s private correspondence.

Speaking during business questions, SNP chief whip Owen Thompson asked: “Yesterday the Prime Minister indicated he would immediately publish his personal correspondence relating to Covid contracts.

“So, can the Leader of the House tell us what the Government considers to be the meaning of the word ‘immediately’ and when will the Prime Minister actually release his correspondence?”

Responding, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “It is really important that contracts are awarded properly and it is why that correspondence will be published, and it is why the contracts will be published as well.

“A proper process of transparency is taking place.”

Mr Rees-Mogg also said Sir James should be praised.

He added: “Let us praise Dyson for all that he has contributed to British manufacturing, a huge success that he has been and the commitment, £20m of his own money, that he put towards ventilators, now that is a proper, patriotic gesture by a man I hold in the highest esteem and we should praise.”