UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told The Sun that London is investigating whether a “hostile state” hacked confidential memos by British Ambassador to the US Kim Darroch that described President Donald Trump as “inept and incompetent”.
“Of course it would be massively concerning if it was the act of a foreign, hostile state. I’ve seen no evidence that that’s the case, but we’ll look at the leak inquiry very carefully”, Hunt said.
He added that investigators “are going to follow all avenues of inquiry to try to understand how this happened” and that it is “something that will be considered”.
Although Hunt never mentioned Russia in the interview, The Sun, along with several other British tabloids including, the Mirror and the Daily Mail, were quick to hint at Moscow’s alleged involvement in hacking the sensitive memos.
Tense Russian-UK Relations
This comes amid strained ties between Moscow and London, which deteriorated further after the Salisbury incident on 4 March 2018, when Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping mall in Salisbury.
London immediately accused Russia of attempting to assassinate the Skripals with what is believed by London to be the A-234 nerve agent. Russia has repeatedly denied having any role in the poisoning, pointing to the lack of evidence provided by London to substantiate its accusations. The Skripal case led to Russian diplomats being expelled from a spate of EU countries.
Trump Vows not to Deal with Darroch Over Memo Leaks
The British media allegations against Russia come as Downing Street, in turn, underlined that while the leak is unfortunate, “Kim Darroch continues to have the Prime Minister's [Theresa May] full support".
May's spokesman James Slack, for his part, vowed that “strong” UK-US ties will continue despite the leak. He added that police would only interfere in a probe led by civil servants in the Cabinet Office “if evidence of criminality is found”.
He was echoed by Hunt, who pledged on Monday that London will not allow “any interruption in the superb relationship that we have with the United States, which is our closest ally around the world”.
Trump, in turn, promised on his Twitter page that Washington “will no longer deal with” Darroch over his unfriendly remarks.
“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US”, Trump added.
He earlier noted that “we are not big fans of that man [Darroch] and that “he has not served the UK well”.
In the cables, dating from 2017 to today, Darroch specifically lashed out at Trump, describing him as “inept and incompetent", as well as warning London that the US president’s “career could end in disgrace”.