UK officials call for investigation following reports that government hid Liz Truss phone hack
Liz Truss speaking at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London in 2020. Image: UK Department for International Development
Alexander Martin October 31, 2022

UK officials call for investigation following reports that government hid Liz Truss phone hack

UK officials call for investigation following reports that government hid Liz Truss phone hack

British opposition politicians are calling for an “urgent investigation” into allegations the government covered up a security incident in which the personal phone of Liz Truss, while serving as Foreign Secretary, was hacked by “agents suspected of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

The attackers stole “up to a year’s worth of messages” as reported by the Mail on Sunday, including “highly sensitive discussions with senior international foreign ministers about the war in Ukraine, including detailed discussions about arms shipments.”

According to the newspaper it was discovered during the Conservative Party’s first leadership contest this year, but was “suppressed” by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson alongside the United Kingdom’s most senior civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, 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.”

She added: “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.”

The foreign affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Layla Moran, called for “an urgent investigation to uncover the truth,” and added: “If it turns out this information was withheld from the public to protect Liz Truss’s leadership bid, that would be unforgivable.”

No other media outlet has been able to verify the Mail on Sunday’s report. A government spokesperson refused to comment on it when contacted by The Record, stating: “We do not comment on individuals’ security arrangements.”

However they added that the government had “robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats. That includes briefings for Ministers, and advice on protecting their personal data and mitigating cyber threats.”

The report – bylined to the conservative newspaper’s political editor and one of its columnists – has prompted criticism from opposition politicians.

The Record has contacted Liz Truss’s parliamentary office and the Russian Embassy for their comments on the allegations.

Some aspects of the Mail on Sunday story appear to be either erroneous or misleading. 

While it mentions “top-secret details of negotiations with key international allies” this is unlikely to refer to material actually classified as TOP SECRET, which is not accessible on personal devices.

The report also mistakenly claims that the U.S. “used similar technology” to NSO Group’s spyware Pegasus “to spy on former German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone over a number of years.”

The allegations about Merkel’s phone, as reported in Der Spiegel, suggested that the National Security Agency had intercepted communications to and from her device – NSO Group’s tool is a very different technology which is installed on the phone itself after it has been hacked.

Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for The Record. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.