Liz Truss addresses 10 Downing Street in London on October 25. HENRY NICHOLLS / Portal
Confidential information about the war in Ukraine was allegedly hacked from the laptop of Liz Truss, then Foreign Secretary, and in the middle of the Downing Street election campaign. The opposition is calling for an investigation.
Without this umpteenth humiliation she would have gotten along just fine. According to British newspaper The Mail on Sunday, Liz Truss’ phone was allegedly hacked when she was Foreign Secretary. Accordingly, spies – suspected Kremlin agents – had access to confidential talks about the war in Ukraine and detailed talks about arms deliveries with “international partners”.
Equally compromising, the hackers are said to have had access to conversations Liz Truss had with her colleague Kwasi Kwarteng, then-future Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary), in which her boss, namely Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was openly criticized at Time. Gossip could be used for possible blackmail by spies, the Mail on Sunday points out. According to the conservative newspaper, however, the hackers had access to these messages and conversations on the minister’s private mobile phone. After all, the hackers had over a year to download messages from Liz Truss.
Even more annoying would be that when the executive discovered the hack in Last Summer’s heart, they would have done whatever they could to cover up the affair. The pot of roses would have been spotted while Liz Truss, then Foreign Secretary, was campaigning to become leader of the Conservative Party and succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
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Immediately “the details of Boris Johnson (…) and his cabinet secretary Simon Case were deleted,” writes the Mail on Sunday. A former military intelligence officer, Philip Ingram, also told the newspaper that the compromised phone was likely kept in a “secured vault where the device can be scientifically examined by experts without the hackers knowing”.
“We do not comment on the safety precautions taken by individuals. The government has robust systems in place to protect itself against cyber threats,” a government spokesman said when asked by the daily. “This includes regular updates for ministers and advice on how to protect their personal data,” he adds. However, he neither confirmed nor denied the information that the minister’s laptop had been hacked.
Are Kremlin agents really behind this maneuver? Without providing any evidence, the Mail on Sunday nevertheless appealed to two security experts who, citing other potential spy countries – China, North Korea or Iran – claim that Russia “is at the top of the list” behind this type of hack.
Opposition calls for investigation
These revelations provoked strong reactions from the opposition, which rushed to call for an investigation. “There are immensely important national security issues raised by an attack like this from a hostile state… as well as security issues to understand why and how this information was leaked… which must be the subject of an urgent investigation,” the on reacted to the Mail Sunday is opposition Labor MP Yvette Cooper, also Home Secretary in the opposition shadow cabinet.
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“We urgently need an independent investigation to find out the truth. Was Liz Truss’ phone hacked by Russia? Was there deliberate coverage of the case, and if so why?” added Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, quoted by The Independent as saying. “If it turns out that this information was withheld from the public to protect Liz Truss’ (Conservative Party ed.) leadership campaign, it would be unforgivable,” she warned.
The case has embarrassed Conservative camps as some MPs have been able to teach Liz Truss a moral lesson, including Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, one of the party veterans: “Ministers should be more careful and never use their private phones . I assume my own private cell phone was spied on,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
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These revelations have also reignited debate in the press about national security issues across the Channel, and this is not the first such scandal. The centre-left daily The Guardian recalled that Boris Johnson’s private mobile number had been freely available on the internet for 15 years, while “the United Arab Emirates have been accused by forensic experts of attempting to steal phones at Downing Street and hacking office abroad – which Abu Dhabi has refused”.
But all the British media have in mind another very timely similar scandal above all: According to the BBC, current Home Secretary Suella Braverman admitted in a letter on Sunday to having forwarded government documents to her personal email address six times in 43 days but also on his private phone. Reappointed by the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after he resigned after the affair, she remains a target for the opposition.
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