'Insufficient evidence' to prosecute pair accused of leaking CCTV of Matt Hancock kissing aide

The CCTV images of Matt Hancock and former aide Gina Coladangelo led to his resignation. Credit: PA

Two people suspected of leaking CCTV footage of Matt Hancock kissing his former aide from the Department of Health and Social Care will not be prosecuted, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said.

The former health secretary resigned after the images, which showed the then-health secretary in an embrace with former aide Gina Coladangelo while Covid social distancing rules were in place, were leaked to the press.

The ICO said it launched a criminal investigation after it received a report of a personal data breach from the Department of Health's CCTV operator, EMCOR Group plc.

On Wednesday, the ICO confirmed it has found “insufficient evidence” to prosecute two people suspected of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing the footage from the government department, which led to Mr Hancock’s resignation from the Cabinet in June, last year.

A person reads a copy of the Sun newspaper with pictures of Mr Hancock kissing former his aide Ms Coladangelo Credit: PA

In a statement it said: “Given the seriousness of the report and the wider implications it potentially had for the security of information across government, the ICO had a legal duty to carry out an impartial assessment of the evidence available to determine if there had been a breach of the law. 

“Forensic analysis revealed that the leaked images were most likely obtained by someone recording the CCTV footage screens with a mobile phone.”

Six mobile phones seized during searches relating to the investigation did not contain any relevant CCTV footage, the ICO said.

“After taking legal advice, the ICO concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with criminal offences under the Data Protection Act 2018. The ICO has therefore closed its criminal investigation,” it said.

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A still from the leaked footage showing Mr Hancock and Gina Coladangelo was originally published by The Sun newspaper. Boris Johnson subsequently claimed, through his spokesman, that he “considered the matter closed” after Mr Hancock apologised to him for breaking social distancing rules with the embrace inside his Whitehall office. But the following day the married West Suffolk MP announced he was resigning for breaching the guidelines that were in place at the time.

Security reviews were later announced and the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he had ordered for the camera to be disabled.

As part of the data breach probe, the ICO said in July that two raids were carried out in the south of England where computer equipment was seized. The Sun called the raids an “outrageous abuse” that could deter whistleblowers from coming forward.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We note the outcome of the ICO’s investigation and will continue to work with them to learn any lessons from this incident. “We take the security of our personnel, systems and estates extremely seriously. “Since this incident, we have worked with security specialists from across government to review procedures and will keep them continually under review.”