United Kingdom police launch investigation into leaked ambassador cables

UK police investigate Kim Darroch cables - CNN

UK police investigate Kim Darroch cables - CNN

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu advised editors it "could be a criminal matter".

President Donald Trump on Friday offered good wishes to Britain's former ambassador to Washington Kim Darroch, who resigned earlier this week amid a spat with the Republican president following leaked diplomatic cables.

Evening Standard editor George Osborne described Mr Basu's statement as "stupid" and "ill-advised".

"Once you start prosecuting the media for publishing stuff you don't like, that is a very risky place to be", Bob Seely, a Tory MP who sits on the Commons Foreign Affairs committee, told the Telegraph. "What are you going to do, Met Police, arrest us?"

London Police said its terrorism command had initiated the probe into the leaking.

He said: "A prosecution on this basis would amount to an infringement on press freedom and have a chilling effect on public debate".

The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, also questioned whether journalists who published such material were committing an offence.

The British government had opened its own inquiry into the leaks this week and noted it had involved the police to ascertain whether any documents protected by the Official Secrets Act had been shared.

"Turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty's Government", Basu said.

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"They should also be aware of the huge damage that has already been done, and the potentially even greater damage to be done by further breaches of the Official Secrets Act".

Those comments drew a furious response from the president who denounced him as a "very stupid guy" and a "pompous fool" and said the the White House would no longer deal with him.

Darroch quit after Donald Trump labelled him "stupid" and "wacky" following the leaking of the memos in which he branded the USA president's administration inept.

Darroch stepped down from his role on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson refused to confirm Sir Kim would remain USA ambassador during an ITV debate with leadership rival Jeremy Hunt.

According to some Whitehall sources, Sir Kim chose to resign after Mr Johnson failed to fully support him during a TV debate on Tuesday night.

The announcement came as Tory leadership front runner Boris Johnson admitted his reported lack of support for Sir Kim had been a factor in the envoy deciding to step down.

"(Darroch) said that what somebody had relayed to him had certainly been a factor in his resignation", he told BBC television in a testy interview.

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