Boris Johnson's failure to protect mobile number may have posed … Fri, 30 Apr 2021 10:00:00 +0100-The number was listed at the foot of a press release from 2006 when he was a shadow minister.
Boris Johnson’s mobile phone number was freely available on the internet for the last 15 years, according to reports.
A contact number for Mr Johnson was listed on the bottom of a press release when he was still shadow higher education minister in 2006 – a document which was still available online in 2021.
Reports earlier this month suggested senior officials had called on Mr Johnson to change his number because of concerns about how many people contacted him directly.
Downing Street declined to comment on the report – first revealed on the Popbitch gossip website – that Mr Johnson’s phone number was available online to anyone who searched for it.
The press release, which related to his work as shadow higher education minister, invited journalists to contact Mr Johnson directly on either a Commons office number or his mobile.
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Attempts to call the number on Thursday night were met with an automated message saying the phone was “switched off” and an invitation to “please try later or send a text”.
The Prime Minister’s use of his mobile phone has been in the spotlight after text message exchanges with entrepreneur Sir James Dyson and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman were leaked.
Earlier this month, The Daily Telegraph reported that Simon Case, the head of the civil service, suggested to the Prime Minister that he change numbers because his current one is too widely known.
Former UK national security adviser Lord Ricketts said it was in Boris Johnson’s “own interest to be much more digitally secure than seems to be the case now” following reports his mobile phone number was available online.
“I’m talking really of the most senior politicians in sensitive positions, whose phone conversations might well include sensitive material, commercially sensitive material, people trying to lobby them for favours, or tax advantages, or talks with foreign leaders,” he told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme.
“And there, I think you do have to accept, just as you do – you can’t just walk around on your own and talk to anyone you like – equally you shouldn’t be in a position where anyone who once had your phone number can get to you when you are a Prime Minister.
“And that’s one of the inconveniences of being prime minister but it’s for their own sake and their own protection really, that access to them ought to be controlled and monitored.
“So that there can be no suspicion of favours asked for and done or the kind of things that we are now seeing with the exchanges that we see with James Dyson.
“I think it’s for the Prime Minister’s own interest to be much more digitally secure than seems to be the case now.”
Boris Johnson's mobile number freely available on internet for last … Fri, 30 Apr 2021 10:00:00 +0100-Latest updates: Lord Ricketts says 'you can't rule out' hostile states or criminal gangs also having Johnson's number, which was available online.
Outdoor hospitality resumes as Northern Ireland lifts key lockdown restrictions
Updated at 5.52am EDT
Voters have little interest in row about PM's flat refurbishment, minister claims
Victoria Atkins, the Home Office minister, was on ‘minister for broadcasting’ duty this morning, and she was a bit more interesting than many of the ministers put up to perform this role by No 10. Here are the main points she made.
- Atkins suggested broadcasters should not be running stories about Boris Johnson’s mobile number being available online. She told Times Radio:
This seemed to be a reference in particular to the BBC, which has been running this story prominently this morning.
- She rejected claims that Johnson’s use of his phone showed that he was casual about security. (See 9am.) She told Times Radio:
- She claimed that the controversy about the refurbishment of the PM’s flat was not generating a lot of interest with voters. She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:
- She told Sky New that Johnson has answered questions about the flat refurbishment.
Actually, the key point is that Johnson hasn’t answered a series of questions about the flat refurbishment – particularly who paid for it in the first place. That is why PMQs was so excruciating for him on Wednesday.
- She criticised Sir Keir Starmer for holding posing for a photograph in John Lewis yesterday. She told LBC:
Atkins is not alone in criticising the photo-call. This is from Steve Richards, a prominent political commentator generally sympathetic to the left.
- Atkins said she loves John Lewis and was there last week buying make-up.
- She dismissed the suggestion that the Conservative party is “very sleazy and disreputable” – despite a poll in today’s Times (paywall) saying this is what more than half of people think about the party. Asked about this, she told Times Radio:
- She dismissed as “absolute nonsense” a report in the Evening Standard saying that she has made a “disparaging remark” in private about Carrie Symonds, the PM’s fiancee. In his Standard column Tom Newton Dunn said that as a result Atkins’s expected promotion to the cabinet is in jeopardy. Newton Dunn wrote:
Asked about the report, Atkins said:
Updated at 5.35am EDT
People aged 40 and over now invited for Covid jabs in England
Boris Johnson’s failure to protect mobile number may have posed risk, says former national security adviser
Good morning. One of the many aspects in which Boris Johnson is unusually casual about the conventional obligations imposed on prime ministers has been his determination to keep doing business via his mobile phone. Last week No 10 refused to deny reports that he had ignored a suggestion from Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, that he should change the number. And last night it emerged that his number has been available online for years in a dusty corner of the internet.
Does this matter very much? One assumes the Russians and the Chinese had the number already anyway, and so probably not, but on the Today programme this morning Lord Ricketts, a former national security adviser, said this was a matter of some concern. Asked if this mattered, he replied:
Asked if there were security implications, Ricketts replied:
Anyone calling the number now just hears a message saying the phone has been switched off and inviting them to try later or send a text.
Parliament has now prorogued ahead of next week’s elections and the Queen’s speech, and so there is not a lot on the diary for today. Here is the agenda.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS publishes figures on the social impacts of coronavirus.
11am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives a speech to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services spring conference.
12pm: The ONS publishes its weekly Covid infection survey results.
Covid is the issue dominating UK politics this year and often Politics Live has been largely or wholly devoted to coronavirus. But I will also be covering non-Covid politics, and today the blog is likely to be a mix of Covid and non-Covid. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.
Updated at 4.52am EDT
– April 30, 2021
Boris Johnson mobile number Boris Johnson mobile number freely available on internet for last