Fresh questions for the security services have been raised after it emerged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s private mobile number has been available online for a number of years.
The discovery came weeks after it was revealed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s phone number was freely available on the internet for more than a decade.
The Foreign Office said on Tuesday Raab’s number and other private information was swiftly removed once the department was made aware of the oversight.
The Guardian, which first reported the number’s availability after being notified by a reader, said it appeared to have been online since before he became an MP in 2010.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said:
Private information was wrongly retained online, before the Foreign Secretary’s appointment.
Once we were made aware, we had it removed immediately. Most of it was out of date, and no security was compromised.
In April it emerged that Johnson’s number remained on the bottom of an online press release from when he was shadow higher education minister in 2006.
That disclosure – by the Popbitch gossip newsletter – prompted concerns that Johnson had left himself vulnerable to covert activity by hostile states.
The Prime Minister had already been reportedly told by Civil Service head Simon Case to change his number, because it was too widely known from his career as a journalist.
Former UK national security adviser lord Ricketts told the Guardian:
The wide availability of Mr Raab’s personal phone number must increase the risk that other states, or even criminal gangs, have been able to eavesdrop on his calls.
It also means that anyone who happens to have had his phone number … is able to lobby the foreign secretary, bypassing the official channels which everyone else has to use.
Anyone taking on a role as sensitive as this should in their own interests pay as much attention to online as to physical security.
Concerns have also been raised over senior Government figures’ use of WhatsApp.
Former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings has published a series of exchanges on the messaging network, showing it was used to co-ordinate elements of the coronavirus pandemic response.
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