UK prime minister Rishi Sunak’s long-time personal phone number has been leaked online in a major security breach, it has been revealed.
The prime minister was targeted by social media pranksters who published a video online of the phone ringing before Mr Sunak’s answerphone message kicked in, The Sun has reported.
He was given a new number when he came to power a year ago, but the pranksters’ video appears to show his personal number still in operation.
It is not known how the number was leaked, and Downing Street said it would not comment on security matters.
It comes two years after it emerged Boris Johnson’s phone number had been online for 15 years, having featured at the bottom of a press release.
At the time, former UK national security adviser Lord Ricketts said it was in Mr Johnson’s “own interest to be much more digitally secure than seems to be the case now”.
“I’m talking really of the most senior politicians in sensitive positions, whose phone conversations might well include sensitive material, commercially sensitive material, people trying to lobby them for favours, or tax advantages, or talks with foreign leaders,” he told the BBC.
“And there, I think you do have to accept, just as you do – you can’t just walk around on your own and talk to anyone you like; equally you shouldn’t be in a position where anyone who once had your phone number can get to you when you are a prime minister.
“And that’s one of the inconveniences of being prime minister, but it’s for their own sake and their own protection really, that access to them ought to be controlled and monitored.”
Last month Mr Sunak said he could not hand over some WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry, which is investigating the UK government’s handling of the pandemic, because he had changed phones several times and not backed them up.
In his witness statement at the time, Mr Sunak said: “Having changed my phone a number of times over the last three years, I do not have access to the WhatsApp messages that I sent or received during the relevant time, and neither were the messages backed up.”
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