today denied he is the anti-lockdown ‘entrepreneur’ who wanted to bring down ‘hypocrite’ , telling MailOnline: ‘It wasn’t me’.
The formerand Party leader, who helped set up Reform UK to oppose the Government’s Covid restrictions, spoke out after it was claimed a ‘highly successful’ businessman was trying to expose the former health secretary.
The mystery whistleblower is said to have been part of a politically motivated plot to oust him, spearheaded by an anti-lockdown campaigner who was angry about his handling of the pandemic.
It came as the company responsible for security in the building on Victoria Street confirmed for the first time it was helping the Department of Health and Social Care with its probe into the leak.
But Emcor UK – which has provided security for sensitive buildings including the top-secret Porton Down laboratory – refused to say if any of its staff had been questioned or suspended.
Nigel Farage (pictured in August 2019) today denied he is the anti-lockdown ‘entrepreneur’ who wanted to bring down ‘hypocrite’ Matt Hancock, telling MailOnline: ‘It wasn’t me’
The leak of CCTV footage exposing Mr Hancock’s affair could have been part of a politically motivated plot to oust him spearheaded by a ‘highly successful’ businessman and anti-lockdown campaigner who was angry about his handling of the pandemic, it emerged today.
And in a dramatic twist, it was claimed that an entrepreneur had allegedly offered the compromising images to prominent political journalist Isabel Oakeshott because he ‘relished his part in exposing Hancock’s hypocrisy’ – five days before they were published.
It raises the prospect that the leak of the footage – which showed the former health secretary breaking his own social distancing rules – could have been motivated by opposition to his stance on Covid.
The source of the images has been the subject of fevered speculation since they were first published at the end of last week.
The CCTV footage, apparently from a camera inside Mr Hancock’s private Department of Health office, showed him kissing his adviser Gina Coladangelo at a time when hugging anyone from outside your household was banned.
It had been speculated that the images came from a rogue security guard or ‘whistleblower’ employee at the department who had access to the footage and then contacted the national newspaper that published them directly.
But last night political journalist and broadcaster Ms Oakeshott revealed she had been sent a grainy shot of the CCTV clip by ‘an anti-establishment figure with a dim view of politicians in general and a particular disdain for the architects of the lockdown policy’.
Writing in The Spectator, she described this person as a ‘highly successful entrepreneur’ who ‘would have relished his part in exposing Hancock’s hypocrisy’. But she said she mistakenly dismissed the footage as fake and that the ‘contact’ who offered it agreed that the original seller was ‘probably a chancer’.
The leak of CCTV footage exposing Matt Hancock’s affair could have been part of a politically motivated plot to oust him, it emerged last night
Political journalist Isabel Oakeshott, left, who is in a relationship with leader of Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party, Richard Tice, right, feared that the footage may have been fake or doctored – and her partner agreed
Miss Oakeshott is in a relationship with Richard Tice, a founder of the Leave Means Leave campaign. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Tice, who leads Reform UK, a party that campaigns to restore pre-Covid freedoms.
He revealed last night he had examined the clip after Miss Oakeshott passed it to him but he believed it was ‘doctored’.
Mr Tice said: ‘The footage was doctored, there is no question. If you look closely you see a pair of hands when he is not touching her. It’s not his hands.
‘We saw that and thought something is not right. The footage came to Isabel and we both agreed it wasn’t right. The affair is clearly right but there is something not right about that footage.’
Victoria Newton, Editor of The Sun, has also described how the scoop came to them, describing the mole as a ‘whistleblower’ – but not linking them to any anti-lockdown movement.
She wrote in the New Statesman: ‘The news desk had been contacted by an angry whistle-blower. They claimed to have irrefutable evidence that the married Secretary of State for Health was breaching his own lockdown rules by having an office affair with an aide. My first thought was – bloody hell, what a story, it can’t be true.
In a dramatic twist, it was claimed that a ‘highly successful’ anti-lockdown entrepreneur had allegedly offered the compromising images of Hancock and adviser Gina Coladangelo (pictured left) to a prominent political journalist five days before they were published
‘The source told us they had footage of Matt Hancock kissing his glamorous adviser Gina Coladangelo on 6 May in his Westminster office. A quick check of the government rules that Hancock himself had devised and demanded that the nation follow showed that kissing someone from another household was most definitely not allowed’.
Ms Newton was the person who called Mr Hancock, which led to him telling his wife and children he was leaving.
She said: ‘I won’t divulge details of the call, but I told him we had the story and that I was running it because the public interest was so strong’.
The footage originally came from an email account on Protonmail, a service that offers end-to-end encryption. It is understood it was first offered for sale five days before the story was published in a national newspaper.
It raises the prospect that the member of staff who leaked the clip may have used a politically motivated intermediary to sell it in a bid to cover their tracks.
The pool of security staff who had access to the CCTV footage in the Department of Health is thought to be small and there is likely to be a digital record of those who viewed it and may have been able to surreptitiously record it on their phone.
MPs and security experts have called for a police inquiry into the security breach amid concerns that the Whitehall investigation will not have the power or expertise to uncover the truth.
It raises the prospect that the leak of the footage – which showed the former health secretary breaking his own social distancing rules – could have been motivated by opposition to his stance on Covid
Labour MP Chris Bryant said yesterday it was ‘preposterous’ that the investigation was being conducted by the Department of Health, which ‘has no aptitude in this field, no experience and no powers – it’s bizarre’.
He added that he had no confidence the probe would uncover the truth and demanded a full parliamentary inquiry.
The investigation, which is being supported by Whitehall specialists from the Government Security Group at the Cabinet Office, will look at whether the CCTV camera installed in the private office at least four years ago had been tampered with.
Cameras used in the building are produced by Hikvision, a Chinese firm banned in the US over concerns that it could be used by Beijing as a spying tool.
The company denies the claim, saying there is no evidence that its data is relayed to China.
Former Met counter-terrorism detective David Videcette, who has uncovered documentation about cameras in the building, said yesterday the police should get involved if criminal offences are uncovered.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard confirmed that it is not investigating the matter.
Anger as PM dismisses furore as ‘Westminster bubble’ issue
Boris Johnson faced criticism yesterday as he dismissed anger over Matt Hancock’s lockdown breach as a ‘Westminster bubble’ issue.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer raised the case of Ollie Bibby, who died of leukaemia in hospital on May 5, a day before the former health secretary was filmed kissing a female aide.
His mother, Penny, has told of her anguish at how she and her husband were prevented from seeing their 27-year-old son in his final weeks.
In the Commons yesterday, the Labour leader quoted Mrs Bibby, who said: ‘I’m livid. We did everything we were told to do and the man that made the rules didn’t. How can that be right?’ Sir Keir said:
‘Ollie died, like so many other people in this pandemic, with his family and friends unable to spend time with him. When he was in hospital he begged to see his family. But following the rules, only one member of his family was allowed to see him.’
Boris Johnson faced criticism yesterday as he dismissed anger over Matt Hancock’s lockdown breach as a ‘Westminster bubble’ issue
In his response, Mr Johnson said: ‘We all share the grief and the pain of Ollie and his family and millions of people up and down the country who have endured the privations that this country has been through in order to get the coronavirus pandemic under control and that is why we had a change of health secretary the day after the story appeared. And that is why actually what we are doing as a government, instead of focusing on stuff going on within the Westminster bubble, we are focusing on rolling out vaccines at a rate that will make sure that people like Ollie and his family do not have to suffer in the future.’
Mrs Bibby, of South Benfleet in Essex, told the BBC: ‘Boris Johnson just dismissed the question, he avoided answering it entirely, which made us feel like we’re not important.’
The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: ‘The point he was making was that Starmer was focusing on [Hancock] when he left government five days ago and there are obviously significant challenges facing the country around jobs, education, Covid recovery.’
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