CCTV at Matt Hancock's office 'was no secret'

CCTV at Matt Hancock’s office ‘was no secret’: Disgraced former Health Secretary ‘must be the stupidest man on Earth’ if he knew about the camera and still canoodled with his lover in full view, MP says

  • Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said device was ‘not covert’ and not planted
  • It came as reviews were launched in both health department and Parliament
  • Mrs Lopez told MPs that the camera was an ‘outlier’ and not general policy 

Matt Hancock was accused of naivety yesterday as MPs were told that the camera which caught him kissing his aide was not a secret.

Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez admitted the device was ‘not covert’, dismissing theories that a rogue member of staff or security guard had planted a recording device to capture the former health secretary’s affair with Gina Coladangelo.

It came as reviews were launched in both the Department of Health and Social Care and in Parliament into the leak of the compromising footage to a national newspaper.

The CCTV camera was operated by the Department of Health, adding that responsibility for security was down to the department, which was led by Mr Hancock until his resignation

Ministers’ offices are now being swept for bugs and hidden cameras. Mrs Lopez told MPs that the camera in Mr Hancock’s office was an ‘outlier’ and that it was not general policy for recording devices to be put in ministerial offices.

But she confirmed it was a CCTV camera operated by the Department of Health, adding that responsibility for security was down to the department, which was led by Mr Hancock until his resignation. 

The Mail understands that security arrangements had been outsourced to a private contractor. But the House of Commons was told that ministers’ offices are regularly swept for bugs, with some dealing with important issues of national security being checked more often on a ‘risk-based assessment’.

Thanks to its central role administering the vaccine during the pandemic, the Department of Health is likely to have been among those checked regularly. She said: ‘We do not believe there are covert concerns at this moment.’

But her response exasperated incredulous MPs, with Labour’s Chris Bryant saying: ‘Something really doesn’t add up here… The secretary of state knew it was there. And yet, we’ve all seen the video. If that’s true, he must be the stupidest man on Earth.

‘Is [Mrs Lopez] really trying to persuade us that he knew there was a camera in his office?’

Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez, pictured, admitted the device was ‘not covert’, dismissing theories that a rogue member of staff or security guard had planted a recording device

Officials are scrambling to identify and switch off any CCTV cameras with a view of ministerial offices. The Department of Health is carrying out an investigation, which is being supported by Whitehall security specialists from the Government Security Group based at the Cabinet Office. MI5 will be consulted by the Office in the leak inquiry if the disclosure poses a threat to national security.

Yesterday, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle announced a second review in Parliament, saying: ‘I have directed senior officials to consider what implications there are for security arrangements in the House given recent events in Whitehall and take any necessary steps with urgency.’

Earlier, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News he had asked for his office to be searched. He said: ‘I’ve never seen any camera facilities. I know there is CCTV in the building… but I am sure that many of my colleagues will be asking the same question and making sure that the offices are swept.’

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