Government urged to investigate reports of Liz Truss phone hacking by Russian agents
The breach was discovered when then-foreign secretary Ms Truss was running for the Tory leadership in the summer, but details were suppressed by then-prime minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, The Mail on Sunday reported.
Spies suspected of working for Russian president Vladimir Putin gained access to sensitive information, including discussions about the Ukraine war with foreign officials, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
It also claimed private conversations between Ms Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng criticising Mr Johnson fell into the hackers’ hands, potentially leaving them at risk of blackmail.
Opposition parties are demanding a probe into the alleged attack, which will raise questions about the UK’s cyber security, as well as the judgment of Mr Johnson and Mr Case.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “There are immensely important national security issues raised by an attack like this by a hostile state which will have been taken extremely seriously by our intelligence and security agencies.
“There are also serious security questions around why and how this information has been leaked or released right now which must also be urgently investigated.
“It is essential that all of these security issues are investigated and addressed at the very highest level and we need to know that the Government recognises the gravity of this and the importance of fully protecting our national security.”
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said: “We need an urgent independent investigation to uncover the truth. Was Liz Truss’s phone hacked by Russia, was there a news blackout and if so why?
“If it turns out this information was withheld from the public to protect Liz Truss’s leadership bid, that would be unforgivable.”
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, told Sky News: “I have seen these reports. I don’t know the value or the sources and so forth. It is something for the sister committee, the Intelligence and Security Committee I think to investigate further.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individuals’ security arrangements.
“The Government has robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats. That includes regular security briefings for Ministers, and advice on protecting their personal data and mitigating cyber threats.”
Reports on the hacking come as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is resisting demands to launch an inquiry into Suella Braverman for her security breach.
He reappointed her as Home Secretary just six days after she was forced out after sharing a sensitive document with a Tory backbencher from a personal email without permission.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove insisted the Government takes security issues “incredibly seriously”, when asked about reports that Liz Truss’s phone was hacked by Russian agents.
Mr Gove, who made a return to Cabinet this week as Levelling Up Secretary, told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I don’t know the full details of what security breach, if any, took place.
“What I do know is that the Government has very robust protocols in place in order to make sure that individuals are protected, but also that Government security and national security are protected as well.”
Asked about reports the alleged breach was covered up by the Cabinet Secretary, Mr Gove said: “I’m sure that Liz both as foreign secretary and as prime minister will have followed the advice that she was given by the intelligence and security communities.
“I think all of us have to be sensitive, particularly those of us in Government, to the fact that the more that we talk in detail about these things, the more that we risk giving information to people who wish this country and its citizens harm.
“We do take security issues incredibly seriously. That’s why, again, I have to be cautious in responding to the point that you understandably made about Liz’s phone.”