Boris Johnson ignored security guidance on personal mobile phones
Boris Johnson ‘ignored security guidance to text Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and billionaire Sir James Dyson on his personal phone’
- Ministers were issued with classified advice following the 2019 general election
- It warned them against using their personal devices and communication apps
- Despite this, the prime minister is believed to have messaged both Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and billionaire Sir James Dyson
- The classified warning given to ministers has been revealed in legal documents
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ignored his own national security guidance over the use of a personal mobile phone, according to legal documents.
In recent years, Mr Johnson is alleged to have texted both Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and billionaire Sir James Dyson on his own mobile phone to discuss official business.
This is despite Mr Johnson and senior ministers being warned two years ago not to conduct government business on their personal devices or communication apps, The Times has reported, citing the documents.
The revelation comes amid questions over minister’s widespread use of WhatsApp and other messaging apps when conducting government communications.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured during a visit to The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Crisis Centre at the Foreign Offices on August 27, 2021 in London) ignored his own national security guidance over the use of a personal mobile phone, according to legal documents
Ministers were issued with classified advice following the 2019 general election, warning them that both their personal mobile phones and email accounts were at risk of being hacked, the newspaper reported.
The document titled ‘The Security of Government Business’ was given to ministers after the Conservative Party’s election win, and was marked ‘Official – Sensitive’.
The Times reported that the document warned ministers that their personal IT would not be as secure as that issued by government departments.
It also said they should not use ‘personal devices, email and communication applications for government business at any clarification.’
The advice issued to ministers was revealed as part of a legal case brought against the government by campaign group Foxglove and non-profit organisation The Citizens, which are aiming to ‘stop ministers making major decisions over apps like WhatsApp and Signal, where messages can be set to disappear,’ their website says.
‘It is astonishing that it has taken our legal action to uncover the fact that the government actually has a secret policy banning the use of WhatsApp messages and private emails for government business,’ executive director of The Citizens Clara Maguire told The Times.
In recent years, Mr Johnson is alleged to have texted both Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (left) and billionaire Sir James Dyson (right) on his own mobile phone to discuss official business.
Cori Crider, Foxglove’s director, questioned whether Boris Johnson had ‘ever bothered to read his own secret policy banning ministers’ from using personal devices and applications.
Recent reports have revealed the extent of ministers’ reliance on their personal mobile phones, private email accounts and apps such as WhatsApp when conducting government business.
It has been reported that Johnson and the Saudi prince texted about a potential Saudi-backed takeover bid for Newcastle United football club.
Meanwhile, Mr Dyson is said to have messaged the prime minister in order to secure favourable tax arrangements for his staff coming to the UK to supply ventilators amid a shortage during the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
The takeover of Newcastle United never went through, and the Dyson ventilators were not needed by the NHS.
It has also been reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove were among cabinet ministers to exchange messages with David Cameron regarding Greensill Capital’s access to emergency coronavirus loans.
It was revealed by The Sunday Times that Matt Hancock – the former health secretary who resigned after he was found to be having an affair with his aide – used his personal Gmail account to conduct business.
In addition, it was also found earlier this year that the prime minister’s phone number had been available online for 15 years.
Labour has accused the government of ignoring the security guidance in an attempt to avoid scrutiny, with the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner saying Johnson and ministers are ‘putting out nation’s security at risk’, according to The Times.
But a Cabinet Office spokesperson told the newspaper that not all conversations had by ministers will be government business, adding that ‘significant content related to government business from such discussions is passed back to officials.’
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