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Two homes have been raided and computers have been seized by officials from the UK’s data watchdog amid an investigation into the leaked footage of Matt Hancock.
Images of the former health secretary kissing a departmental aide were leaked last month, leading to questions about potential conflict of interest and Hancock’s failure to abide by his own coronavirus rules.
In the wake of the leak, Hancock offered a public apology and resigned from his government role.
The two homes in the south of England were raided today, July 15, by officers from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following a complaint by EMCOR Group, which provides CCTV services for the Department of Health and Social Care.
EMCOR Group alleges that images of Hancock were taken from the department’s CCTV system without consent before being published by The Sun newspaper.
The Department of Health and Social Care has previously explained that a CCTV camera was installed as part of renovations in Hancock’s office in 2017, though the former health secretary was not made aware of it upon being appointed in 2018, Sky News reports.
Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s director of investigations, said:
It’s vital that all people, which includes the employees of government departments and members of the public who interact with them, have trust and confidence in the protection of their personal data.
In these circumstances, the ICO aims to react swiftly and effectively to investigate where there is a risk that other people may have unlawfully obtained personal data.
Eckersley went on to stress that the investigation is ongoing, and the group will ‘not be commenting further until it is concluded’.
The ICO officers seized personal computer equipment as well as electronic devices as part of the operation.
The aide seen kissing Hancock in the images is identified as former lobbyist Gina Coladangelo, who Hancock hired as an adviser last year. The former health secretary, who is married, met Coladangelo at Oxford University and remined close friends with her before hiring her for the role, Insider reports.
In a statement following the leak of the images, Hancock admitted he ‘breached social distancing guidance in these circumstances’, adding that he had ‘let people down’ and that he was ‘very sorry’ for his actions.
Ahead of Hancock’s resignation on June 26, a spokesperson for prime minister Boris Johnson said the PM ‘accepted the health secretary’s apology and considers the matter closed’.
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