Sajid Javid says camera that caught Matt Hancock’s affair has been ‘disabled’

‘I’m not really sure why there was one in office,’ says new health secretary

Adam Forrest
Monday 28 June 2021 14:07
Comments
Camera that caught Matt Hancock kissing aide has been disabled, Sajid Javid says

Boris Johnson’s new health secretary Sajid Javid has said the camera that caught Matt Hancock kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo has now been disabled.

“I haven’t disabled the camera that you are talking about but it has been disabled by the department,” said Mr Hancock’s replacement on a visit to to St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Monday.

“For security it’s just common sense. I don’t think as a general rule there should be cameras in the secretary of state’s office.”

Mr Javid added: “I’ve never known that in the other five departments that I’ve run, and I’m not really sure why there was one here. But I’m sure there will be more to this as the whole incident is investigated.”

It comes as Whitehall officials urgently review the use of cameras in government departments, with MI5 reportedly set to discuss the leaked CCTV footage which triggered Mr Hancock’s resignation with the Cabinet Office.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland said he had ordered a “sweep” of his own department to make sure no unauthorised cameras were in place, and has been informed there is no CCTV monitoring his own office.

“I’m sure that many of my colleagues will be asking the same question and be making sure the offices are swept just in case there are unauthorised devices that are in there that could be a national security breach,” he told Sky News on Monday.

“I think there is an important principle here about the need for ministers and civil servants who often are handling very sensitive material and information to have a safe space within which to work.”

Mr Hancock is understood to have been unaware a CCTV camera, reportedly installed in 2017, was filming his office. Ministers will be questioned about security relating to ministerial offices later on Monday.

Tory MP Peter Bone has been granted an urgent question on the issue following the leak of footage from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to The Sun.

With the DHSC conducting its own investigation into the leak, MI5 is set to hold talks with the Cabinet Office this week over the incident and the implications for national security, according to The Times.

Hancock with his aide Gina Coladangelo

“Hancock having a kiss with his girlfriend is not a national security issue, it’s a national embarrassment issue,” one policing source told the newspaper.

“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.”

Several former government ministers have shared their alarm over the incident, revealing they had not known any cameras to be placed inside their departmental offices.

“If it were a departmental camera ... then it would be seen by the security officers,” tweeted ex-international development secretary Rory Stewart at the weekend. “Someone else installing it would have some challenges – security passes, doors, access to ministerial office, etc.”

The Mail on Sunday reported that an employee working at the DHSC had approached an “anti-lockdown campaigner” on Instagram asking for their assistance in sharing “damning CCTV footage” with the media.

Labour MP Conor McGinn, shadow minister for security, called for a wider investigation addressing speculation that some of the CCTV cameras in government buildings were made by a Chinese firm.

“The government must urgently review all of its key buildings, have the intelligence agencies sweep them for bugs and unauthorised CCTV, and address the speculation about a private company with links to China having access to Whitehall’s inner sanctums,” he said.

Separately, Mr Hancock is facing an investigation for allegedly using his private email account to conduct government business.

Asked whether Mr Hancock’s actions were a “huge security issue” that could potentially see hackers gain access to government communications, Mr Buckland told the BBC: “I agree, and that’s why I think it’s important that we use the systems that we are provided with.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in