No one will be prosecuted over the leak of CCTV footage showing Matt Hancock engaged in a clinch with a colleague in his office, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced.
The footage and stills of the embrace, which prompted his resignation as health secretary, were leaked to the Sun in June last year. It was most likely obtained by someone using their phone to record a CCTV screen, the ICO said.
Hancock stepped down from government a day after the images emerged, showing him kissing Gina Coladangelo, a longtime friend who was also a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), inside his ministerial office.
The footage was shot on 6 May last year, meaning the clinch was a breach of Covid social distancing rules. Under the government’s unlocking timetable, intimate contact with people outside your own household was only permitted from 17 May.
The ICO launched an investigation into alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act. Several weeks after the footage emerged, data protection officers raided two homes in the south of England, seizing computer equipment and electronic devices.
In its statement on Wednesday the ICO said it had “found insufficient evidence to prosecute two people suspected of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing CCTV footage” from the health department.
It said the inquiry was launched after complaints about a potential data breach by the US-based company Emcor, which operated the CCTV system in the department.
“Forensic analysis revealed that the leaked images were most likely obtained by someone recording the CCTV footage screens with a mobile phone,” the statement said. “Six phones retrieved during the execution of search warrants did not contain the relevant CCTV footage. After taking legal advice, the ICO concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with criminal offences under the Data Protection Act 2018.”
Boris Johnson initially sought to defend Hancock but accepted his resignation a day later after a wave of anger from Conservative MPs, including some ministers.
Hancock has subsequently separated from his wife, Martha, with whom has three children, and is now believed to be in a relationship with Coladangelo.
In 2020 Labour had complained about apparent cronyism after it emerged that Coladangelo, the head of marketing at the retail chain Oliver Bonas and a university friend of Hancock, had first been made an unpaid adviser at the DHSC and then a non-executive director, a part-time role paying £15,000 a year.