Watchdog set for investigation into ministers' private email accounts

Ministers face probe over private emails: Data protection watchdog is set to launch inquiry into use of personal accounts by ministers in the wake of Matt Hancock scandal

  • Data protection watchdog set for investigation into ministers’ private email use
  • Disgraced Matt Hancock is reported to have ‘routinely used’ his own account 
  • Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner, is ‘looking closely’ at claims 
  • Cabinet Office guidance states ministers should use their official email accounts

The data protection watchdog was poised last night to launch an investigation into the use of personal email accounts by ministers including Matt Hancock.

Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said she was ‘looking carefully’ at claims they were being used to conduct government business.

Labour called for health minister Lord Bethell to be sacked over claims he had used a personal email address to discuss government contracts.

Downing Street insisted yesterday that both Mr Hancock and Lord Bethell ‘only ever conducted government business through their departmental email addresses’.

Boris Johnson refused to state whether he had used a personal email account for work purposes, saying: ‘I don’t comment on how I conduct government business’

Mr Hancock is reported to have routinely used a private account, according to minutes of an official meeting at the Department of Health and Social Care

But Boris Johnson refused to state whether he had used a personal email account for work purposes, saying: ‘I don’t comment on how I conduct government business.’

Cabinet Office guidance states ministers should use official email accounts to leave a paper trail for important decisions and to maintain scrutiny. 

But Mr Hancock is reported to have routinely used a private account, according to minutes of an official meeting at the Department of Health and Social Care seen by The Sunday Times.

They also stated Lord Bethell ‘routinely uses his personal inbox and the majority of [approvals for contracts] would have been initiated from this inbox’.

Last night there were also claims that health minister Helen Whately had copied in a private Gmail address to a diary invitation. 

The Information Commissioner said: ‘I am… considering what further steps may be necessary to address the concerns raised with me.’

Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former aide, said last night that Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock routinely used WhatsApp instead of official communication channels.

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