United Kingdom

Ministers 'must be filmed reading the Queen's speech' to stop leaks of post-Covid plans

Senior ministers wanting to know what is in the Queen's Speech next week have been told they must be filmed reading it in order to cut down on leaks. 

Cabinet ministers wanting sight of information about some of the 25 bills that will be outlined on May 11 have been ordered to examine it while being recorded remotely, to ensure they are not taking pictures or sending images.

It comes amid internal furore over a 'chatty rat' who has been leaking damaging kompromat about the Prime Minister and details of past lockdown plans stringent measures are being taken. 

Insiders say that the leaker has been identified, but that they may not be publicly revealed.

A senior Whitehall source told MailOnline: 'They know who but cannot prove it.' 

Boris Johnson's former top aide Dominic Cummings has denied being the leaker, as has Henry Newman, a former adviser to Michael Gove and close friend of Carrie Symonds now working in No10. 

But the demand for ministers to be recorded, and not being allowed to keep copies of the document, first reported by the Times, shows the level of distrust in the highest levels of Government. 

The Queen will lead the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday, but ministers wanting advanced sight of her speech will have to be filmed reading it.

Boris Johnson's former top aide Dominic Cummings denied being the leaker in a bombshell blogpost a fortnight ago

So has Henry Newman (centre), a former adviser to Michael Gove and close friend of Carrie Symonds now working in No10.

The Queen's Speech sets out the legislative agenda for the next Parliament and will be read by the monarch at the State Opening on Tuesday. 

It is expected to feature post-Brexit state aid reform and changes to the planning system, as well as measures to boost the UK's recovery from the economic ravages of the pandemic.

Last week the Cabinet Secretary admitted an inquiry into the 'chatty rat' lockdown leak probably will not find a culprit as he gave evidence to MPs.

Giving evidence to a powerful committee, Simon Case said the probe into who revealed plans for renewed restrictions last year was 'complex'.

But Mr Case did not back up Mr Cummings's claims that he had been cleared over involvement in the leak, which led to revelations in the Mail that Boris Johnson was poised to order a second national lockdown in October. 

The emergence of the details forced Mr Johnson to bring forward an announcement that a four-week closure would happen in November. 

Mr Case said he hoped the conclusions of the inquiry - which has been going on since last year - could be given in 'weeks rather than months'. But he stressed that the culprit had not yet found. 

'Given the time that has now past I think it is probable that the team will not successfully identify the source or sources. But work is ongoing,' he told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Mr Case rejected an allegation from Mr Cummings that the PM suggested the inquiry could have been quietly dropped after initially pointing towards Mr Newman. 

'My knowledge is limited to my time I'm afraid but no, I'm not aware of any incidents,' he said.

'No, in relation to this particular leak, and others. The Prime Minister has always been clear, very determined to see these inquiries complete.'

Mr Case's appearance in front of the committee left some members furious as he repeatedly dodged questions on the subject of leaks, citing the need for ongoing investigations to conclude as well as national security concerns. 

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