Sir Patrick Vallance never intended the diaries to ‘see the light of day’

Sir Patrick Vallance never had any intention of his diaries ever ‘seeing the light of day' and the notes were his way of decompressing from the daily pressures of his job, according to the Covid-19 inquest.

The former chief scientific adviser, who was in the post from 2018 until the start of the year, appeared before the inquiry, which is looking into the UK's response to the pandemic, on Monday.

His crisis-era diary entries were used in the examination of other key figures, including former No 10 communications director Lee Cain and former cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill.

Giving evidence at Dorland House in London, Sir Patrick said: “I had no intention of these ever seeing the light of day or looking at them again and I felt that the world had probably had enough of books and reflections of people's thoughts during Covid .”

He admitted that the journal was a way to protect his own mental health from the daily stresses of his job, saying, “At the end of each day, often quite late at night, I would spend just a few minutes jotting down some thoughts from that day, and things and concerns, and I did it as a way to block it out, in a sense, so I could focus on the next day.

“These were personal thoughts. They were momentary reflections from a day.

“And once they were written, I never actually looked at them again.

“They put them in a drawer and that was it.

“I certainly had no intention of doing anything else with them.”

He also told the inquest that the diary was his way of ‘decompressing' and protecting his mental health and while he still held some of the views today, he had changed his views on others.

“Some of it, I look back and think ‘well, this seems like a sort of logical sequence of reflections during this period,'” Sir Patrick said.

“Others I look back and I can see that I might have written something one day and then two days later I'd be writing something that said, ‘I don't actually agree with myself on this,' which might have been the way he had behave or someone a remark.

“So it was very spur of the moment thoughts.”

Sir Patrick challenged the inquest's full release of the diary, describing the notes as a “brain dump” written “at the end of extremely stressful days to protect his mental health”.

Baroness Heather Hallett, who is leading the inquiry, last month said it would be “premature” to make a decision on whether the listings should be disclosed in their entirety.