MI5 officials are reportedly expected to hold talks with the Cabinet Office over the leak of Matt Hancock’s office CCTV footage.
The former Health Secretary’s kiss with aide Gina Coladangelo on May 6 – a time when coronavirus guidelines banned people from hugging others who were not members of their household – was revealed on Friday in footage leaked from inside his ministerial office.
An official probe into how CCTV footage became public is underway, with a Cabinet minister confirming the “internal investigation” as fears mount over other security breaches.
The married dad-of-three handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday but questions over the footage remain.
Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis told Times Radio there were two issues for the government to look into – whether the camera in Hancock’s office was there “appropriately” and, if it was there for security reasons, “how that video got out to the public domain”.
Now MI5 officials are expected to discuss the incident with the Cabinet Office this week to decide if the leak is a matter of a national security breach and requires further investigation by intelligence agencies, reports The Times.
The Department of Health and Social Care has reportedly disabled the camera and officials of new Health Secretary Sajid Javid are said to have covered the camera with black masking tape.
A policing source told the Times: “Hancock having a kiss with his girlfriend is not a national security issue, it’s a national embarrassment issue. But it raises issues of blackmail and extortion.
“What if sensitive material on documents could be seen on the cameras and passed on to those who wish Britain harm? That would certainly elevate it.”
It comes after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It’s completely unacceptable from a security point of view that ministers are being filmed inside their own offices without their knowledge. And so there’ll be issues that our intelligence agencies will want to look at very, very carefully.”
Asked if it was a breach of the Official Secrets Act and police should be involved, the chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee told the BBC: “Possibly.
“We have rightly in this country… protection for whistleblowers who find things out and release them in the public interest, and we don’t want to undermine that.
“But I do think we do need to understand how this happened and make sure ministers are secure in their offices to be able to have conversations they know aren’t going to be leaked to hostile powers.”
According to the Mail on Sunday, a whistleblower approached media outlets using a now-deleted Instagram account, offering “damning” footage of the “totally f*****g hopeless” Health Secretary in a “very compromising position.”