LONDON (AP) – The UK government on Friday downplayed security risk allegations after it was reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cell phone number had been openly available on the internet for 15 years.
Celebrity website Popbitch revealed the number was in a 2006 think tank press release, when Johnson was an opposition MP and the Conservative Party spokesperson for higher education.
Callers to the number heard an automated message on Friday saying the phone was “off” and telling them to try later or send a text.
The government denied that there was a lack of security. Home Secretary Victoria Atkins insisted the Prime Minister “knows his national security responsibilities”, and she slammed the media for revealing that the issue was in the public domain.
The head of the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said that “as far as I know, all security protocols were followed”.
“Part of what makes the Prime Minister special is that he is an incredibly accessible person,” Sunak said.
But former national security adviser Peter Ricketts said if the number was widely available it could be used to listen to hostile nations “and perhaps other non-state actors, like sophisticated criminal gangs as well.”
Johnson is already facing questions about his text and WhatsApp messaging with business leaders and lobbyists.
He denied doing anything wrong when he texted industrialist James Dyson last year and promised he would “correct” the tax rules for Dyson if he agreed to make fans for the National. Health Service.
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