Leaked Downing Street video footage exposes staff laughing about party

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

Leaked Downing Street video footage exposes staff laughing about party

It’s outside of the scope of this website to determine whether newspaper claims that 10 Downing Street held a booze-fuelled Christmas party that “broke Covid lockdown rules” in December last year are accurate or not.

But what’s interesting to me is that once again video has leaked from inside the Government that has put it in hot water.

ITV News has obtained Downing Street footage from December 22 last year (a few days after the alleged lockdown-breaking party).

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The footage shows Downing Street staff rehearsing a TV press conference – with advisers to Prime Minister Boris Johnson posing tricky questions about the party that had just taken place, while posing as the press.

Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton clearly finds it very difficult to find a way to spin the controversial party in a way that the real media might find acceptable…

Whether you care about whether Downing Street broke Covid lockdown rules a year ago or not might depend on whether you know anyone who died from Covid, or if you were not able to meet up with loved ones or attend a party, because of the rules imposed by the Government.

I’m not really interested in your opinions on that. What I’m interested is who had access to this (presumably confidential) footage of a press conference rehearsal, and then chose to leak it to ITV News.

It feels to me like the UK Government might again have someone in its midst who finds its behaviour hypocritical, and wishes for it to be exposed.

And that sounds to me like a security issue, whichever side of the political fence you sit on, and whatever party might be in power.

And wouldn’t you have thought security would have been tightened up after the mysterious leak of a furtive snog in CCTV footage signalled the end of Health Minister Matt Hancock’s career?

Once again, it seems a whistleblower inside the UK Government has been able to pass video footage onto the media that casts the-powers-that-be in a bad light.

You might think that it’s justified. Indeed, I think it’s justified. But it shouldn’t be something that’s easy to do.

If it’s easy to leak sensitive video footage from inside the halls of power then it could happen again and again, and maybe next time a breach could have more serious consequences.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

8 comments on “Leaked Downing Street video footage exposes staff laughing about party”

  1. anon

    "If it’s easy to leak sensitive video footage from inside the halls of power then it could happen again and again, and maybe next time a breach could have more serious consequences."

    I sincerely hope that by 'more seious consequences' you mean the summary execution of the rulemakers caught breaking the rules that they, themselves wrote.

  2. Re-con

    "Leaked Downing Street video …….staff laughing about "FICTIONAL" party."
    At 28 seconds.
    Then the rest makes sense as laughing at ROLE PLAY.

    Another example of MSM manufacturing "news" perhaps ?

    1. Graham Cluley · in reply to Re-con

      It seems pretty clear that there was a party, and it wasn't fictional.

      https://twitter.com/BBCRosAtkins/status/1468685471052144640

  3. Maik

    Allegra Stratton video: Who is the Downing Street mole and how did it get leaked on TV?
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/12/08/stopping-leaks-becoming-flood-could-embarrassing-no-10-videos/

    1. Chris · in reply to Maik

      The Torygraph article seems to suggest that the footage was sent as an email attachment, or perhaps as a link to a video file on a shared drive which could simply be downloaded and, one presumes, copied elsewhere at will. In other words, the UK Government has no idea how to control access to or proliferation of data that is proving to be very damaging. These are the absolute basics of an effective infosec strategy, and Number 10 has no clue about them. Frightening.

  4. Andy G

    The VERY PURPOSE of media training and press rehearsal sessions is to give those who present publically the opportunity to review in private the way they might respond to the curved-balls, pointed questions and often haranguing interview styles adopted by the media. If you are going to make those kind of gaffs, this is the place to do it, so your colleagues can hopefully provide you with fair and frank feedback before you make such gaffs in public.
    I don't condone Allegra Stratton's comments, my point is this was a private session and should have remained that way. Leaking the video was a severe breach of confidence and whoever did so should be suitably reprimanded. It's deeply worrying that confidential matters leak from Government meetings so easily. In the context of the purpose of the meeting, this wasn't genuine whistle-blowing, it was mischief making, no doubt for personal or political gain.

    1. Simon Clarke · in reply to Andy G

      If you have evidence of a crime then you ought to report it.

      1. Maik · in reply to Simon Clarke

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y18CrgFdh4

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