Two people suspected of leaking CCTV footage of Matt Hancock having an affair with his aid while social distancing guidelines were in place will not be prosecuted, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said. The former health secretary resigned from the Cabinet after the Sun newspaper published footage of him kissing Gina Coladangelo in his departmental office on May 6, in breach of coronavirus rules.
An investigation into the leak, which prompted security concerns in Whitehall, was launched after the Emcor Group, which provides CCTV services at the Department of Health and Social Care, submitted a breach report alleging the images were taken from the system without consent.
Today, the ICO said it found “insufficient evidence” to prosecute anyone. Forensic analysis revealed that the leaked images were most likely obtained by someone recording the CCTV footage screens with a mobile phone, the ICO said.
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In a statement, it said: “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 offenses under the Data Protection Act 2018 .”
In July last year, investigators confirmed they had seized computer equipment following searches at two homes in the south of England over the leaking of the CCTV footage. The Sun called the raids an “outrageous abuse” that could detect whistleblowers from coming forward.
At the time, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the PA news agency that the regulator has a “statutory responsibility” to investigate reports of a data breach “administering the laws that Parliament has given us.” She said she was passionate “about free journalism” and “the importance of an independent press” and whistleblowers.
“It’s important that we go in and we look at the facts and only then will we make a determination as to whether this data breach was in the public interest,” she said.
Mr Hancock resigned as health secretary the day after the leaked footage appeared on the front page of the Sun on June 25. The newspaper’s editor, Victoria Newton, said its news desk was contacted by “an angry whistle-blower” over the footage on June 23 before a reporter was “dispatched” to view it the following day.
At the time the footage was taken, indoor social gatherings of people from different households were banned under law and guidance urged people to stay two meters apart and avoid “face to face contact”.
Earlier this year, in a lengthy interview with the Diary of a CEO podcast, Mr Hancock said he “fell in love” and “it all happened quite quickly” – but insisted he did not break the law.
Mr Hancock said he fell in love with Ms Coladangelo – whom he has known since his student days – while they were working together at the Department of Health. “We fell in love and that’s something that was completely outside of my control,” he said. “Of course I regret the pain that’s caused and the very, very public nature – anyone who has been through this knows how difficult it is, how painful it is.”
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