Counter-terror police launch probe to find source of US ambassador leaks amid 'damage' to UK's reputation
The Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation into the leaking of official documents which led to Sir Kim Darroch resigning from his role as the UK's ambassador to the US.
In confidential diplomatic telegrams, Sir Kim described Donald Trump's administration as "uniquely dysfunctional".
Their publication in the Mail on Sunday led to a diplomatic clash between the UK and Washington, with Mr Hunt
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the force's terrorism command had now launched a formal investigation - as he urged those behind the leak to "turn yourself in".
"Given the widely reported consequences of that leak I am satisfied that there has been damage caused to UK international relations, and there would be clear public interest in bringing the person or people responsible to justice," Mr Basu said.
“The publication of leaked communications, knowing the damage they have caused or are likely to cause may also be a criminal matter."
And he added: "I would say to the person or people who did this, the impact of what you have done is obvious. However, you are now also responsible for diverting busy detectives from undertaking their core mission. You can stop this now. Turn yourself in at the earliest opportunity, explain yourself and face the consequences."
The top police office also issued a warning to media organisations, saying "all owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media" should not "publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them".
Instead, he said media outlets should "turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s Government".
The leak has become a key part of the Tory leadership contest after Boris Johnson refused to give Sir Kim his unequivocal support during a head-to-head debate with Jeremy Hunt earlier this week.
Interviewed on Friday by the BBC's Andrew Neil, Mr Hunt said his rival's comments had been partly to blame for the top diplomat's decision to resign.
"I think we have to back our diplomats all over the world," he said.
Mr Johnson meanwhile argued that his comments had been "misrepresented" - but conceded that Sir Kim had told him his comments “had certainly been a factor”.
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