Government launches official inquiry over leaks to media about 'looming lockdown'

Dominic Penna
·2-min read
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks from 10 Downing Street to a meeting with his ministers at the Foreign Office, in London - Matt Dunham/AP
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks from 10 Downing Street to a meeting with his ministers at the Foreign Office, in London - Matt Dunham/AP

The Government has launched an official inquiry after details of a meeting between top Cabinet members about a 'looming' national lockdown were leaked to the press.

The Times and Sky News reported on Friday night (October 30) that at least some level of further nationwide restrictions will be announced next week.

Scientists from the Sage committee are thought to have presented figures to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday that showed Covid-19 is spreading ‘significantly’ faster than in even their ‘worst-case’ projections.

Mr Johnson is understood to have been persuaded that a national lockdown - which he has previously described as a “nuclear option” - is the only way to stem infections and save Christmas, although senior sources insisted no decision has been made.

Insiders are said to be “furious” that the plans were disclosed before an announcement on Monday, and according to Sky News the Government is “now having to change plans”.

It comes as John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, claimed that leaks would undermine trust, and he demanded “clear communication” on the pandemic.

“To those briefing selective media on a potential national lockdown please understand the impact this has,” he wrote on social media.

“It creates a media frenzy, causes confusion and ahead of any official announcement encourages some to make the most of their pre-lockdown time. This is not a good mix.

“This can add immense pressure to the 999 services who are already struggling with the demand they have. Please be more responsible. Clear communication, not corridor briefings.”

Government communications have been criticised throughout the pandemic, with initial announcements on Greater Manchester lockdown rules initially being made via Twitter and Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, accusing ministers of treating Parliament with 'contempt' through off-the-record briefings.