Camera that caught Hancock embrace now disabled - but security questions remain

Ministers have expressed surprise at the presence of CCTV in the office and new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it had now been disabled

Security reviews have been launched in Westminster after the leak of compromising footage from Matt Hancock’s former office in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Mr Hancock quit as health secretary after CCTV images were leaked showing him breaching social distancing rules in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo.

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Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock pictured leaving 10 Downing Street with aide Gina Coladangelo after the daily press briefing on May 1, 2020 (Dan Kitwood/Getty).
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock pictured leaving 10 Downing Street with aide Gina Coladangelo after the daily press briefing on May 1, 2020 (Dan Kitwood/Getty).

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At a glance: 5 key points

- The new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the camera in Matt Hancock’s former office has now been disabled

- Questions still remain about the security breach which allowed the footage to reach The Sun, and reviews have been launched in both the DHSC and in Parliament

- Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said the footage of Hancock and Coladangelo was filmed by departmental CCTV rather than a covert camera

- Whitehall security specialists are now assisting the DHSC in their investigation into the leak

- Tory MP Peter Bone questioned whether the Wilson Doctrine – the principle dating back to Harold Wilson’s administration banning the surveillance of MPs – had been breached but Ms Lopez insisted there were not believed to be any “covert concerns”

What’s been said?

Javid said for security reasons it’s “common sense” to disable the camera.

“I don’t think, as a general rule, there should be cameras in the Secretary of State’s office,” he 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.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Times Radio he did not see why there was any need for a camera in a minister’s office.

He said: “I’ve asked the question, and there no cameras in my office, and I wouldn’t have expected there to be, because the issue really for ministers and indeed all staff is safety and security and once you’re through the cordon and the security area, then you can reasonably assume that the building is safe and that authorised people only are there so I don’t see the need for security cameras in government, in that part of the government building.”

Tory MP Peter Bone said: “If Government and parliamentary offices have recording devices in them – whether audio, visual or both – it is of the utmost concern.”

He added: “It is totally unacceptable for private conversations between ministers, civil servants, Members of Parliament and members of the public to be secretly recorded.”

Background

Matt Hancock resigned as Health Secretary after it emerged that he had been having an affair with an old university friend he had hired to work for him in government.

CCTV footage obtained by The Sun showed Hancock in an intimate embrace with Gina Coladangelo in his office, at a time when Covid restrictions permitted close-contact with anyone outside your own household.

Hancock resigned on 26 June, though many criticised the PM for not sacking him prior to that, after the story was confirmed on 24 June.

Sajid Javid has now returned to government after resigning as Chancellor in February 2020, over a dispute about members of his staff, which is thought to have been caused by Dominic Cummings.

Additional reporting by PA.