The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it had seized computer equipment and electronic devices as part of the operation on Thursday morning, amid an ongoing investigation into alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act.
The story proved controversial because the footage was taken in May - when social distancing measures were still in place - and because Hancock had hired Coladangelo, who he had known since his university days, as an adviser.
The footage was obtained by “an angry whistleblower”, The Sun’s editor Victoria Newton said and the story was published within 24 hours. Hancock initially said he would not resign and Boris Johnson appeared to support him but the following day he changed his mind.
Meanwhile, the leak prompted security concerns in Whitehall, and new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the camera was switched off after he succeeded Hancock.
At the time, the security company Emcor, which provides CCTV services to the department, reported itself to data protection investigators and said the footage was taken from the government CCTV system without consent.
The ICO has said it is investigating a breach of section 170 of the Data Protection Act, which covers the disclosure of personal data without consent. This section does contain a protection for otherwise unlawful disclosure of data in some circumstances if it “was justified as being in the public interest”.
Steve Eckersley, the director of investigations at the ICO, said: “It’s vital that all people, which includes the employees of government departments and members of the public who interact with them, have trust and confidence in the protection of their personal data.
“In these circumstances, the ICO aims to react swiftly and effectively to investigate where there is a risk that other people may have unlawfully obtained personal data. We have an ongoing investigation and will not be commenting further until it is concluded.”
Police and crime commissioners said the investigation should be referred to the police. Festus Akinbusoye, the newly elected Conservative PCC for Bedfordshire, said:
“Yes, I think it needs to be.“Despite the right or wrongs of what was done, there’s a serious issue here as to the security breach and it’s important that Government ministers are able to do their job without having to worry about being filmed, especially in what should be a secure environment.”
Lincolnshire’s PCC Marc Jones, a Conservative who was appointed chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on Thursday, said: “It does make a difference to our standing internationally, if we can’t keep our own government buildings secure then that has implications.
“So it’s really important that this is dealt with appropriately, professionally and that Government can have confidence that it can go about its business on all of our behalves.”