Scotland Yard will probe a complaint about the security breach which saw footage of Matt Hancock kissing his married aide end up with a newspaper – as MI5 is drafted in for leak inquiry
- Specialist Crime Command will probe a complaint about how footage was taken
- MI5 is also set to be consulted by the Cabinet Office as part of the leak inquiry
- This is to see if the disclosure of the footage poses a threat to national security
Scotland Yard detectives are assessing a complaint about the astonishing security breach which saw the Health Secretary being filmed inside his office.
Officers from the Specialist Crime Command will probe a complaint about how the compromising footage taken in Matt Hancock’s office fell into the hands of a national newspaper.
MI5 is also set to be consulted by the Cabinet Office as part of a leak inquiry to see if the disclosure poses a threat to national security.
Officers may consider whether any criminal offences have been committed if security CCTV footage was illegally obtained, or whether any laws were broken in the capturing of the image showing the minister kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo.
A Whitehall investigation was under way last night into the major security breach, which has triggered concerns at the highest level of Government over who could be spying on ministers.
In Whitehall: Matt Hancock (standing up) in his office with Gina Coladangelo (right) and other staff
The Government Security Group, which is in charge of security at 800 buildings across Whitehall, has been asked to investigate, with Alex Chisholm, the Cabinet Office permanent secretary, expected to be in charge of an inquiry.
The leak has raised the worrying prospect that details of ministers’ movements and perhaps even the documents they handle could be spied upon and fall into the hands of Britain’s enemies.
Sources said the photo showed Mr Hancock and Miss Coladangelo inside his Whitehall office standing against the door. They are only 6ft away from the ‘Spin Art’ portrait of the Queen by Damien Hirst, which has featured as a backdrop to Mr Hancock’s Covid TV broadcasts.
The incriminating pictures were last night believed to be photographs taken of footage shot by a security camera.
Officers may consider whether any criminal offences have been committed if security CCTV footage was illegally obtained, or whether any laws were broken in the capturing of the image showing the minister kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo (pictured)
But it was unclear exactly how the leaked image was obtained. A Whitehall security guard with access to CCTV could have leaked it. Mr Hancock has a palatial suite on the top floor of his department in Victoria Street – a few hundred yards from Parliament – including an outdoor balcony and enormous glass windows on two sides.
Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection and divisional commander in the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘This is a serious national security issue.
‘If someone can obtain a picture like that inside a ministerial office, what else can they see? Sensitive government documents? It is essential that Scotland Yard investigates.’
The Henry Jackson Society political think-tank, which has warned against the dangers of high tech spying by Russia and China, called for Scotland Yard and MI5 to launch an investigation, raising the prospect that the office may even have been bugged by a hostile state.
Scotland Yard detectives are assessing a complaint about the astonishing security breach which saw the Health Secretary being filmed inside his office (file photo)
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the society, said: ‘For reasons of national security, it should be impossible for a bug to be placed anywhere near such a facility.
‘All other ministerial offices will now need immediately sweeping to see what other listening and recording devices are snooping on ministers.’ Last night Scotland Yard was assessing a complaint from the think-tank which suggested that an offence had been committed under the Official Secrets Act.
Although responsibility for the security of ministerial offices lies with the Government Security Group, officials often rely on private contractors for the physical security arrangements in government buildings. Mr Hancock’s office sits within a £144million building owned by a Singapore-based property firm.
Among the questions the Government will have to answer is whether proper vetting was carried out of staff who have access to CCTV footage. It is unlikely that private security guards would be asked to sign the Official Secrets Act.
Last night the Mail was told that Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command would not be carrying out the assessment, suggesting that the Official Secrets Act is unlikely to be an issue in any investigation.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman stressed that while the complaint was being assessed, no formal criminal investigation has been launched.
‘At this time this remains a matter for the relevant government department,’ he added.
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