The CCTV camera that ended Matt Hancock’s career was deliberately tampered with to “stitch-up” the former Health Secretary, senior Whitehall insiders have told the Evening Standard.
The camera was originally installed to point towards a glass door and balcony with sweeping views outside his ministerial office, which was considered a security weak point.
But somebody turned it around so that it pointed instead to the internal doorway where Mr Hancock was caught kissing and fondling his aide Gina Coladangelo.
An internal investigation is seeking to discover if the camera was moved accidentally during renovations or whether it was repositioned by the leaker to spy on the couple. Insiders are convinced that it was done deliberately.
“We all think Matt Hancock was really stitched up on this,” a senior source told the Standard.
Questions over how the footage was allowed to reach The Sun was a major talking point in Westminster this week, with reviews launched in both the DHSC and in Parliament.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told MPs: “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.”
Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez told MPs that Whitehall security specialists were assisting the DHSC in their investigation into the leak.
“I can confirm that the Department for Health and Social Care has launched an investigation and that is supported – as appropriate – by the Government security group based at the Cabinet Office.
“Until this investigation is complete, it’d be inappropriate to give further details.”
She said the footage of Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo was filmed by departmental CCTV rather than a covert camera.
But Mr Javid told reporters the camera had now been disabled by the department.
“For security it’s just common sense,” he said.
“I don’t think, as a general rule, there should be cameras in the Secretary of State’s office.
“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.”
“Of the utmost concern”
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.”
The level of concern about the security breach was clear in Parliament, where Sir Lindsay made his announcement before an urgent question on the issue.
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.”