Russia publicly blamed by Downing Street for hoax calls to UK government ministers

The Defence Secretary had ordered an inquiry to find out how the impostor was able to speak to him

Published

Downing Street has publicly blamed Vladimir Putin’s Russia for being behind hoax calls targeting British ministers.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel said they had been targeted by calls from imposters last week while No 10 revealed an unsuccessful attempt was also made to contact Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Russian state was responsible for the hoax telephone calls made to UK ministers last week.

“This is standard practice for Russian information operations and disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there.”

Mr Wallace had previously said he believed Russia was behind the incident but this is the first time the Government has directly blamed the Kremlin.

Downing Street said the hoax video calls to UK ministers were an attempt by Vladimir Putin’s regime to distract from military problems in Ukraine.

“We are seeing a string of distraction stories and outright lies from the Kremlin, reflecting Putin’s desperation as he seeks to hide the scale of the conflict and Russia’s failings on the battlefield,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Senior Government sources fear the Russians may attempt to doctor footage obtained in the calls in an attempt to embarrass the UK.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace publicly acknowledged he had been targeted shortly after his call on Thursday in an attempt to get ahead of any attempt by Moscow to circulate footage from it.

He also initiated a cross-Whitehall review to tighten up security procedures.