A freelance journalist, Steven Edginton, 19, who currently works for the Brexit Party, revealed that he leaked the diplomatic cables that led to the resignation of the British ambassador in Washington DC, Sir Kim Darroch, in a lengthy feature article The Daily Mail published Sunday.
According to the article, Edginton and Isabel Oakeshott, a journalist he contacted to tell about the leaked documents, decided to leave Edginton’s name out because of the possible controversy due to the teen’s affiliation with the Brexiteers.
“I appreciate that my CV – and my pro-Brexit views – will inevitably fuel the conspiracy theories but I want to be absolutely clear: the leak of Sir Kim’s cables had absolutely nothing to do with the Brexit party,” he writes.
Following the leak, the Scotland Yard launched an investigation and suggested the Mail’s editors could be prosecuted over the publication of sensitive information.
Edginton confessed that he might be arrested for his role, even though he is not the source of the leak. Edginton has kept the name of the actual source a secret and has vowed to protect their identity.
The journalist claims that the leak was purely journalism and not a “Brexiteer plot to topple Sir Kim [Darroch].”
“Nor was it some devilish scheme to torpedo the independence of the civil service by installing a political appointee in Washington,” he wrote. “It was simply an honest journalistic endeavour.”
The Guardian report notes that the situation is unusual, since, while it is not uncommon for news editions to publish stories without crediting the author, it is unusual for the authors to later reveal themselves.
According to The Guardian, Edginton began his journalism career at 16, as a YouTuber focusing on politics. Despite his youth, he has interviewed several prominent political figures, and, over time has adopted an increasingly pro-Brexit stance.
Later, the teen was offered a position at a news outlet founded by British businessman and pro-Brexit political donor Arron Banks and Nigel Farage, who is now a Brexit party MEP. In just a few years, Edginton has seen his career skyrocket; now working in the digital strategy department for the Leave Means Leave organization, founded by businessman Richard Tice. After Tice co-founded the Brexit party, Edginton joined as the head of its digital campaign, The Guardian report says.
Diplomatic cables leaked by Edginton earlier this month reveal that Darroch, in confidential letters to the UK Foreign Office, called Trump “inept,” “clumsy,” “utterly dysfunctional,” and reported that, in order to communicate with the US president, one must make their sentences “blunt,” as Trump does not understand subtlety or ambiguity.
Following the leak, UK Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage - a well-known Trump ally - immediately called for the resignation of the ambassador, sparking speculation that the leak was a plot to replace Darroch with a pro-Brexit diplomat.