BORIS Johnson was told off by the chair of the UK’s Covid-19 inquiry less than a minute into Wednesday’s proceedings for leaking his evidence to the media.

Covid inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett complained about the briefings ahead of Boris Johnson’s appearance, saying that leaks of the witness statement undermined the process.

His evidence was then interrupted as he began an apology for the “suffering” during the pandemic.

Lady Hallett ordered ushers to remove an individual from the hearing room.

The former Prime Minister is facing the first of two days of questioning over his handling of the pandemic when he appears before the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

It comes after the former prime minister denied deleting WhatsApp messages after it emerged he had not been able to provide the inquiry with any communications from February to June 2020.

READ MORE: LIVE: All the updates as Boris Johnson faces UK Covid-19 Inquiry

The highly anticipated appearance by Johnson is expected to see him admit that his government made mistakes in its response to the virus, but argue that its decisions ultimately saved lives.

Johnson will also, according to reports, insist that he followed the advice of scientists and did not lock down the country more quickly because herd immunity was initially favoured.

His style of government at the height of the crisis has been criticised by former colleagues, while the atmosphere inside Downing Street has been described as “toxic”.

On Wednesday’s morning broadcast round, Home Office minister Chris Philp joked “it’s the first time Boris has ever been early for anything” after the former prime minister arrived at the inquiry venue around three hours before the start of the hearing.

With Johnson likely to be grilled on the evidence of ex-colleagues, a report in The Times revealed that he has not been able to provide the inquiry with any communications spanning the early days of the pandemic and most of the first lockdown.

The paper reported that he told Baroness Heather Hallet’s inquiry that technical experts have not been able to retrieve WhatsApp messages from between January 31 and June 7 2020.

Technical experts had been trying to recover messages from his old mobile phone to hand them to the inquiry. Johnson was originally told to stop using the device over security concerns after it emerged his number had been online for years.

He then reportedly forgot the passcode, but it was believed that technical experts had succeeded in helping him recover messages for the inquiry.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said: “Boris Johnson has fully co-operated with the inquiry’s disclosure process and has submitted hundreds of pages of material.

“He has not deleted any messages.

“The Times report refers to a technical issue in recovery of material that is for the technical team to address.”