Boris Johnson’s office last night backed the freedom of the press after two homes were raided in a probe into the leak of CCTV footage that exposed Matt Hancock’s affair.
An investigation is underway after the video showing Mr Hancock kissing millionaire lobbyist Gina Coladangelo was recorded and leaked.
The exposing of the video, from inside Mr Hancock’s office at the Ministry of Health, led him to resign as Health Secretary. He also split from his wife of 15-years, Martha.
On Thursday, two people suspected of recording the film without consent had their homes raided by officials from Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The raids have sparked fears that whistleblowers may be put off from approaching the press with public interest stories.
But last night, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson told the Telegraph that Mr Johnson had previously spoken about the importance of newspapers investigating stories in the ‘public interest’.
Boris Johnson’s office last night backed the freedom of the press after two homes were raided in a probe into the leak of CCTV footage that exposed Matt Hancock’s affair
Last night, Boris Johnson’s (pictured) office told the Telegraph that Mr Johnson had previously spoken about the importance of newspapers investigating stories in the ‘public interest’
The leaking of the video, from inside Mr Hancock’s office at the Ministry of Health, led him to resign as Health Secretary. He also split from his wife of 15-years, Martha
The spokesperson said: ‘It’s obviously the case that the ICO are investigating, and as such it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further while that investigation is ongoing.
‘But more broadly, the Prime Minister previously has spoken about his belief of the importance of a free press, which can investigate matters that are in the public interest.’
On Thursday, electronic devices were seized following searches of two homes in relation to the leaking of the CCTV footage that led to Mr Hancock‘s resignation.
The ICO said they had retrieved the kit as part of an investigation into how the material emerged.
In the wake of the leak, serious questions were raised about how the highly sensitive footage came to be leaked.
New Health Secretary Sajid Javid this week confirmed that the CCTV in the office has since been disabled for ‘security’ reasons – although he has also made jokes at the expense of his predecessor.
The ICO said in a statement: ‘EMCOR Group (UK) plc, which provides facilities management and CCTV services for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), has submitted a breach report as a processor of personal data, alleging images were taken from the DHSC CCTV system without consent from either EMCOR Group (UK) plc or the DHSC…
‘As part of the investigation, ICO teams searched two residential properties in the south of England on Thursday 15 July 2021.
‘Personal computer equipment and electronic devices were seized as part of the operation and the ICO’s enquiries into alleged breaches of section 170 of the Data Protection Act 2018 continue.’
Steve Eckersley, Director of Investigations at the ICO said: ‘It’s vital that all people, including employees and visitors to public buildings, have trust and confidence in the protection of their personal data captured by CCTV.
‘In these circumstances, the ICO aims to react swiftly and effectively to investigate where there is a risk that other people may have unlawfully obtained personal data. We have an ongoing investigation into criminal matters and will not be commenting further until it is concluded.’
Mr Hancock resigned his Cabinet post two day after the affair was revealed, even though Downing Street initially described the matter as ‘closed.’
Mr Hancock (pictured with Gina Coladaneglo in May) resigned his Cabinet post two day after the affair was revealed, even though Downing Street initially described the matter as ‘closed.’
Mr Javid (pictured), who took over from Matt Hancock as Health Secretary, joked about the infamous camera that captured his predecessor kissing and groping an aide
In a letter to the PM Mr Hancock said the government ‘owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down’.
Mr Johnson said he was ‘sorry’ to receive the resignation, although he later suggested he had acted quickly to axe his senior minister.
Mr Hancock had been under increasing pressure to quit, after The Sun published the images, and then a video, of Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo kissing.
The footage was taken inside the Department of Health on 6 May, during a time when people were ordered to social distance from family and friends.
Mr Hancock ended his 15-year marriage to his wife, Martha, and the relationship with Ms Coladangelo is understood to be a serious one.
Mr Javid joked about the infamous camera that captured his predecessor kissing and groping an aide.
Speaking by video link at a local government conference last week, Mr Javid said: ‘I hope my camera is on… I mean the one on my laptop, not the one on the ceiling.’
Mr Javid has previously swiped at Mr Hancock, liking a meme on social media which suggested he installed the camera himself as a ploy to get the gig.