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Tue, 29 September 2020

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Leaked trade deal papers used in Labour election campaign ‘hacked from Liam Fox’s email account’

Leaked trade deal papers used in Labour election campaign ‘hacked from Liam Fox’s email account’

The former trade secretary’s account was accessed multiple times, according to Reuters. (PA)

2 min read

Leaked documents used by Labour in the run-up to the 2019 election were stolen from the email account of former Cabinet minister Liam Fox by suspected Russian hackers, it has been reported.

According to Reuters, Dr Fox’s account was accessed multiple times between July 12 and October 21 last year, with sources telling the news service that the attack gave the appearance of being state-backed.

The Government last month accused “Russian actors” of trying to interfere in the election by seeking to “promote” the documents on a UK-US trade deal and confirmed there is an ongoing criminal investigation into how they were acquired.

After initially appearing on the site Reddit, the material was picked up by the Labour Party and used by Jeremy Corbyn to attack the Government over ahead to the December 2019 poll.

There is no suggestion Labour was aware of how the documents made their way online and the party has said it condemns "any attempt by Russia" to interfere with British democracy.

Reuters reports that Dr Fox’s account was hacked using a “spear fishing” message, tricking the target into giving up their password and login details.

It is not clear whether Dr Fox, who stood down from the Cabinet in the July reshuffle prompted by the Number 10 handover from Theresa May to Boris Johnson, was a Cabinet minister at the time of the breach.

A Government spokesperson said: “There is an ongoing criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.”

They added that the Government had “very robust systems in place to protect the IT systems of officials and staff.”

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