Homes raided in probe of former UK Health Secretary Hancock’s COVID-19 breach leak

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UK regulators raided two homes Thursday as part of a probe into how politically explosive security camera footage showing former Health Secretary Matt Hancock kissing an aide in his office was leaked to a newspaper.

A still image of the footage, published on the front page of The Sun tabloid last month, led Hancock to admit he broke government coronavirus restrictions while having an affair with the advisor and to resign from the government.

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Several weeks on from the controversy, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), a media and data regulator, confirmed it was investigating an alleged data breach over how the image was accessed.

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The ICO said private contractor Emcor Group, which manages the Department of Health and Social Care's closed-circuit TV services, had “submitted a breach report.”

The report alleges “images were taken from the DHSC CCTV system without consent,” it added.

“As part of the investigation, ICO teams searched two residential properties in the south of England on Thursday 15 July 2021.”

“Personal computer equipment and electronic devices were seized as part of the operation.”

Steve Eckersley, director of investigations at the regulator, said: “It's vital that all people, including employees and visitors to public buildings, have trust and confidence in the protection of their personal data captured by CCTV.

“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.

“We have an ongoing investigation into criminal matters and will not be commenting further until it is concluded.”

The disclosure of Hancock's extra-marital affair and subsequent resignation rocked Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government when The Sun published the image on June 25.

The British leader initially stood by his health secretary, despite Hancock's admission that he broke the social distancing rules he was urging the public to follow.

But after days of pressure, and opposition parties accusing the government of hypocrisy over breaches of lockdown rules which have seen many members of the public slapped with fines, Hancock quit.

He was replaced by former finance minister Sajid Javid.

Read more: WHO chief Tedros to set out follow-up study into origins of coronavirus: Official

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