Government to investigate Matt Hancock footage leak, Brandon Lewis tells LBC

27 June 2021, 11:38

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The Government is launching an investigation to "get to the bottom" of how security footage of Matt Hancock kissing his mistress was leaked, the Northern Ireland Secretary has told LBC.

Brandon Lewis confirmed the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will be looking into how the CCTV footage made its way to the press and why there were cameras in the former Health Secretary's office.

The leak led to Mr Hancock's resignation as Health Secretary on Saturday after it exposed his affair with aide Gina Coladangelo and a breach of his own coronavirus rules.

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Mr Lewis told LBC: "I know the Department will be investigating this - what I've seen on this is what you and others will have seen in some of the press coverage this morning.

"There's some views about how this got out. I do think it is important we understand exactly how this coverage got out."

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed to LBC the Government will investigate the Hancock leak
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed to LBC the Government will investigate the Hancock leak. Picture: Global

Mr Lewis continued: "There is an issue around ministers being able to have the confidence to have discussions and debate, as well as security discussions and debate, and that they can do that openly and freely without it in the public domain."

It comes amid reports Mr Hancock had no idea the camera in his office existed and former cabinet ministers have said they never had cameras in their offices.

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It comes as think tank The Henry Jackson Society reported the leaked footage to the Metropolitan Police as a breach of the Official Secrets Acts (OSA).

The force said it considered the leak "a matter for the relevant Government department" rather than police, prompting the major internal investigation.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), business operators of CCTV must register their details with data and privacy protection regulator the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and be able to justify its usage.

Monitoring of staff without their knowledge is only allowed in exceptional circumstances, such as if they are suspected to be breaking the law, and can only be done as part of a specific investigation.

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Mr Lewis admitted that "everything I say, do or write is likely to turn up in the public domain in one form or another" but said ministers "need to have confidence that those discussions can happen" without fear of it being recorded.

Asked about whether intelligence services should be involved, as suggested by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Mr Lewis refused to comment.