The government does not think it necessary to refer the National Security Council leak to the police, the PM’s de facto deputy says.
Responding to calls from MPs for a police inquiry, David Lidington said the PM considered the matter closed.
He said Gavin Williamson – who has been sacked as defence secretary – had not been accused of a criminal offence, but had lost the PM’s confidence.
Mr Williamson strenuously denies being the source of the leak.
He was sacked following an inquiry into the leak, which led to reports in the Daily Telegraph on plans to allow Chinese company Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network.
Opposition MPs have said there should be an investigation into whether the Official Secrets Act had been breached.
But Mr Lidington, responding to an urgent question from Labour deputy Tom Watson, said it was not considered necessary to refer it to the police, but ministers would “co-operate fully should the police themselves consider an investigation necessary”.
Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick said the force will “look at any complaint” that is made regarding the leak, but they have had no referral from the Cabinet Office.
What is the Official Secrets Act 1989?
Disclosure of official information relating to security and intelligence by a “Crown servant” – including government ministers – can be illegal.
For it to be an offence the disclosure has to be damaging and done without lawful authority (ie not as part of the person’s official duties).
Being found guilty of this carries a sentence ranging from a fine to two years in prison.
If the police were to launch an investigation, the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox would decide whether there was to be a prosecution.