No-one will be prosecuted over the leaking of CCTV footage that showed former health secretary Matt Hancock kissing his aide while coronavirus social distancing guidelines were in place.
The regulator launched a criminal investigation after it received a report of a personal data breach from DHSC’s CCTV operator, EMCOR Group plc.
Mr Hancock quit in June last year after The Sun published images taken on 6 May 2021 showing him in an embrace with Ms Coladangelo.
The video taken in May shows the health secretary opening a door and checking to see if anybody is around before motioning to Gina Coladangelo.
The 43-year-old aide walks towards Mr Hancock before they become entwined together in a passionate embrace in the corridors of power at Whitehall.
Given the seriousness of the report and the wider implications it potentially had for the security of information across government, the ICO said it had a legal duty to carry out an impartial assessment of the evidence available to determine if there had been a breach of the law.
Forensic analysis revealed that the leaked images were most likely obtained by someone recording the CCTV footage screens with a mobile phone.
Six phones retrieved during the execution of search warrants did not contain the relevant CCTV footage. After taking legal advice, the ICO concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with criminal offences under the Data Protection Act 2018.
As a result the ICO confirmed it would be closing its investigation.
In a tell-all interview with The Diary of a CEO podcast in February, Mr Hancock has now revealed he broke the law because he “fell in love” - but insisted he did not break the law.
He said: “I resigned because I broke the social distancing guidelines.
“By then, they weren’t actually rules, they weren’t the law. But that’s not the point.
“The point is they were the guidelines that I’d been proposing. That happened because I fell in love with somebody.”
Two-metre social distancing guidance was in place at the time, while a ban on hugging between people in different households wasn’t lifted until two weeks later.
Ms Coladangelo, whom Mr Hancock met when they both worked in student radio at Oxford University, was a non-executive director at the Department of Health at the time, earning at least £15,000 a year.
Mr Hancock told the podcast Ms Coladangelo, whom he has known “for more than half [his] life”, was brought in to help with public communications.
Mr Hancock was also keen to stress that his and Ms Coladangelo’s relationship was not “casual sex”.
The then-health secretary had warned people to “be careful” about the risk of coronavirus when those rules were relaxed in September 2020 for couples in “established relationships”.
A visibly uncomfortable Mr Hancock asked Mr Bartlett to start the section of questioning again without the reference to casual sex.
“I haven’t had casual sex with anybody,” he said. “I fell in love with somebody.”
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