UK govt on alert after hoax call to Cameron

UK govt on alert after hoax call to Cameron

LONDON - The British government said it was reviewing security procedures after a hoax caller claiming to be the director of Britain's eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), was put through to Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Sun newspaper said the drunken caller had earlier tricked the intelligence agency into handing over a mobile-phone number for its director, Robert Hannigan, although the government said it was not one used for calls involving classified information.

"The Prime Minister ended the call when it became clear it was a hoax," a spokesman for Mr Cameron's office, 10 Downing Street, said in a statement about the calls on Sunday.

"In neither instance was sensitive information disclosed. Both GCHQ and No. 10 take security seriously, and both are reviewing procedures following these hoax calls to ensure that the government learns any lessons from this incident."

The Sun reported that the unnamed man, who it described as being well-spoken and in his 20s, had called GCHQ in the early hours of Sunday, pretending to be a Downing Street aide and saying that Mr Hannigan was required to attend an emergency meeting.

He was then given the director's private mobile-phone number. Hours later, he called Mr Cameron on an official mobile phone, claiming that he was the GCHQ chief.

"I've just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ," the hoaxer told The Sun in a phone call afterwards, adding that he was "on booze" as well as drugs. "I've been up all night. I'm utterly wasted. Hilarious."

On its website, GCHQ states: "The nature of GCHQ's business means that we will not usually connect external calls unless the caller has a name or telephone extension to provide to the operator."

Mr Cameron's spokesman said all government departments had been put on alert for further hoax calls.

The incident is not the first time that a hoax caller has been able to get through to the phone of a British premier.

In 1998, an impressionist pretending to be former Conservative Party leader William Hague was put through to then prime minister Tony Blair.

Mr Blair saw through the hoax immediately, laughing along as the hoaxer offered to lend him an exercise video he had found in a sale.

More about

David Cameron
Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.