Justice Secretary Robert Buckland earlier revealed he had asked for his office to be checked for devices.
By Sophie Morris
Sky News Online – 28 June 2021
The camera that caught Matt Hancock kissing his aide has been disabled, new health secretary Sajid Javid says. Mr Javid said the device has been "disabled by the department", adding that he does not believe ministers' offices should have cameras fitted. It comes as a cabinet office minister told MPs 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. Asked about the device on Monday morning, Mr Javid said:
"I haven't disabled the camera that you are talking about, but it has been disabled by the department. I think for security it is just common sense… 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 am not really sure why there was one here. But I am sure there will be more to this as the whole incident is investigated."
Earlier on Monday, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News he had asked for his office to be swept for "unauthorised devices" following the recording and leaking of footage of Matt Hancock from within the Department of Health and Social Care.
"I've never seen any camera facilities. I know there is CCTV in the building for obvious security reasons, but I am sure that many of my colleagues will be asking the same question and making sure that the offices are swept just in case there are unauthorised devices in there that could be a national security breach,"
the Justice Secretary said.
"I think that is the sensible thing to do."
Quizzed on when he asked whether there are cameras in his office, Mr Buckland added:
"I asked on Friday, so I expect to have those answers later today."
Ministers should have a "safe space" to work, he said. Later in the morning, Mr Buckland revealed he had since learnt that there were no devices in his office. But ministers have continued to face questions about the potential security threat highlighted by the recording that emerged last week.
During an urgent question in parliament, Conservative MP Peter Bone said the existence of a recording device in a ministerial office "should be of national concern" and asked what was being done to investigate if there were other such cameras elsewhere in Whitehall.
"It is totally unacceptable for private conversations between ministers, civil servants, members of parliament and members of the public to be secretly recorded",
Mr Bone said. Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez MP agreed secret recordings would be "unacceptable", but said in the case of Mr Hancock it was a CCTV camera operated by the health department and said there were no "covert concerns at this moment".
Dr Julian Lewis, who chairs the Intelligence and Security Committee, asked whether there were
"rules common to all departments as to where security cameras can be cited and where they must not be".
Julia Lopez responded by saying:
"My understanding is that it is general policy that there are not cameras cited within ministers' offices. I think this was an outlier in that regard, and I think we will have a better understanding of why that occurred once the Department of Health's investigation is complete,"
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