The government has refused to rule out a criminal investigation into leaks from a security meeting about the role of Chinese tech firm Huawei in the UK’s 5G network.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright today slammed the “unacceptable” leak of confidential information, which has prompted calls for an inquiry into a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act.
“We cannot exclude the possibility of a criminal investigation here,” Wright said, responding to an urgent question in parliament.
“I do not think that the motivation for this leak matters in the slightest. This was unacceptable and it is corrosive to the ability to deliver good government.”
Leaked details of a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) earlier this week revealed the UK’s plans to ban Huawei from core parts of the country’s 5G network but allow it in non-core areas.
Wright said the leak, which is believed to be the first since the NSC was founded in 2010, compromised the ability of the committee to discuss matters of national security.
The disclosures have sparked outrage among Tory MPs, who have called for a criminal investigation.
In a letter to cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, Foreign Affairs Select Committee chair Tom Tugendhat said he was “deeply disturbed” to learn of the government’s decision via the media.
“It is essential that an inquiry is undertaken with immediate effect, not least to reassure our partners of our commitment to maintaining the secrecy of the information we share,” he wrote.
Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon also waded into the debate, saying an inquiry was not enough and the police should be brought in to investigate the leaks.
A government spokesperson declined to comment on leaks or leak inquiries.