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Government to investigate leak of Hancock kissing footage

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said Sunday that the leaking of the clip was something ‘we need to get to the bottom of’ (Picture: Sky News & The Sun)

The Department of Health will launch an internal investigation into how footage of Matt Hancock kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo was leaked to the press, a Cabinet minister has confirmed. 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said today that the leaking of the clip was something ‘we need to get to the bottom of.’ 

The incendiary video of the former health secretary, who resigned on Saturday, was secretly recorded and sold to the Sun newspaper.

Mr Lewis told Sky News: ‘Quite rightly what happens in Government departments can be sensitive and important.

‘So yes, I do know that is something the Department of Health will be taking forward as an internal investigation.’ 

Meanwhile ex-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the leak had ‘possibly’ been a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show he said: ‘We have, rightly in this country as a democracy, as an open society, protection for whistleblowers who find things out and release them in the public interest and we don’t want to undermine that, it’s very important part of how we work.

‘But I do think we need to understand how this happened, and to make sure that ministers are secure in their offices, to be able to have conversations that they know aren’t going to be leaked to hostile powers.’

It comes after a Downing Street source suggested the Government had identified the individual behind the leak but would steer clear of an inquiry.  

The source told the Guardian that the Government feared the culprit could claim they were a whistle-blower exposing wrongdoing.

They said: ‘Imagine if that person was dismissed for leaking what any employment tribunal would be like for Matt Hancock.

‘It’s hard to justify a leak inquiry when you’ve been caught brazenly doing something like this.’

Another insider told the newspaper: ‘The thinking is that you could argue that whoever did it was a whistle-blower.

Brandon Lewis said the Department of Health will be launching an internal probe into the leaking of footage showing Matt Hancock kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo  (Picture: Shutterstock)
A Government source previously said Downing Street would be avoiding an inquiry because the culprit would likely claim whistle-blower status (Picture: EPA)

‘If someone was whistleblowing, putting sensitive information into the public domain, they deserve to be protected – that’s good practice with whistle-blowers.’

The footage of the embrace, which broke social distancing restrictions, was caught on a CCTV camera in Hancock’s office on May 6. 

It was then secretly recorded by a member of his department’s staff, who held onto it for a month before selling it, revealed the Mail on Sunday.

It was speculated that the camera had been placed covertly inside the Health Secretary’s office, but photos taken from 2017 clearly show a CCTV camera attached to the ceiling. 

However security experts have said the placing of any camera inside a Secretary of State’s office was ‘unheard of’.

Hancock is the first Cabinet minister to ever be unknowingly filmed inside their own office.

A senior Government source told The Telegraph: ‘There are an awful lot of questions that need answering. Lots of government buildings have cameras outside offices that film people going in and out, but I have never seen one inside a Secretary of State’s office. It’s unheard of.

‘What was that camera doing there, and who put it there? More importantly, who is it that has access to what is going on inside that office?

‘We are talking about people being able to spy on a Secretary of State, so this is a serious breach of security, regardless of what you think of Matt Hancock’s behaviour.’

A team is now reportedly conducting an urgent review of security in the building, situated in Victoria Street.

Fears have also been raised at the possible involvement of a foreign power after it was revealed that the camera in the office was made by Hikvision, a Chinese company outlawed in the US over concerns that it could be used by Beijing as a spying tool.

The firm strongly refutes such claims, saying there is no evidence that its data is relayed to China.

Hancock is said to have told his wife of 15 years, Martha, that their marriage is over on Thursday – after learning the pictures of his indiscretion were about to be splashed on the front page of The Sun.  

He reportedly woke up his youngest child, aged 8, to tell them he was moving out.

Metro.co.uk has contacted the Department of Health for comment.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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