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Matt Hancock has been exposed as an adulterer and a duplicitous MP.

Personal feelings aside, this is a very interesting situation concerning the CCTV footage that was leaked to the press. When I first saw the footage, I thought it was a fixed camera in his office – why would you steal a kiss and grope in full view of CCTV in your office? As it turns out, the footage was from a covert camera hidden in a smoke head. In any case, the leaking of CCTV footage is a clear breach of Data Protection regulations and the person responsible could face Criminal Prosecution.

The far bigger question is why or who authorised covert surveillance in the first place?

Covert surveillance – in its official form – falls outside of the jurisdiction of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and is overseen by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC). The body is currently headed by Sir Brian Leveson, who chaired The Leveson Inquiry. Covert surveillance can only be authorised in prescribed circumstances that tend to fall into areas such as the investigation of serious and organised crime, National Security, and Public Safety. There must be a proportionate response to the nature of the investigation.

Let’s assume this was officially signed off. Why would the Secretary of State for Health need to be investigated under The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)? The need to use covert cameras would suggest intelligence of serious criminal wrongdoing – if indeed this was being used officially.

Let’s assume that this camera was installed by a foreign Security Agency or power to gather intelligence. Why are Ministerial Offices and Departments not regularly swept for cameras and listening devices? As a Citizen, I would expect that all Cabinet Ministers’ offices are safe and clear of surveillance devices that our adversaries use to gather intelligence.

There is also another angle here. The Security Service could have had information on Gina Coladangelo’s former and current activities and was investigating her, using covert means and in doing so happened upon the footage we have all seen.

In either case, the release of this footage contravenes legislation. This could be a clear example of CCTV footage being admissible in any criminal court, due to the way it was collected and disclosed. 

In Law, everyone has the Right to a Fair Trial, enshrined in Article 6 of The Human Rights Act 1998. Simply put, it’s unfair for CCTV to be gathered, handled, or disclosed in such a way that falls short of the legal framework. 

This is not the only recent publicised security embarrassment for the government, as confidential defence documents were found at a bus stop in Kent. It will be interesting to see the government’s public reaction in the days and weeks to come – particularly in light of talks at the G7 summit in Cornwall that placed security, along with climate action, at the pinnacle of the Western agenda moving forward. 

Closing thought 

Fortunately, many organisations take CCTV very seriously – as they should – and avoid these breaches. But CCTV sufficiency goes beyond having the right kit installed; there is also an important education piece on how and when to use it legally, along with understanding the repercussions of failing to do so.

SPP Solutions offer professional CCTV training and CCTV Consultancy