The Suella Saga Continues
The Labour Party has demanded that PM Rishi Sunak clarify whether Suella Braverman’s data breach contained market-sensitive information that companies or individuals could financially have benefited from. Braverman’s return as Home Secretary in Sunak’s government following her resignation from the previous cabinet has sparked questions. She initially resigned after admitting to a data breach in which she emailed an official document from a private account and criticized the former prime minister’s immigration policies. Further reports then emerged stating that Braverman, as Attorney General, was investigated by a section of the Cabinet Office after she sought an injunction to prevent the media from publishing a story concerning a rogue spy working for MI5. The Cabinet Office and Attorney General’s office have neither confirmed nor denied whether Braverman was involved in the inquiry.
Concerned that the saga will have affected her relationship with MI5, a number of conservative MPs argued that British security services should be able to trust whoever holds the position of Home Secretary. Since No 10 is assuring the public that Braverman has a great relationship with the MI5, she is set to continue taking part in intelligence briefings by the security services. With the constant evolution of the digital world, cybersecurity not only affects national security but also has an impact on people’s trust in the government. Braverman clarified that the documents she sent on her personal account would in no way affect national or cyber security. Ministers have to use official channels of communication in order to keep a record of all their decisions in case any analysis is needed. However, government guidance also states that what does and does not count as government business is not always clear cut.
In addition to privacy and cybersecurity concerns, there is also the issue of the Freedom of Information Act: if, at any point, the media or citizens ask for access, record-keeping through official communication channels allow the information to be passed on. This issue came to the fore as a result of Matt Hancock’s use of his personal email during the pandemic. Consequently, the government does not have any records to analyse or rationalise the policies he created during the pandemic, such as the test and trace program or the care homes strategy.