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Man arrested over leak of Kim Darroch cables criticising Trump

The Guardian logo The Guardian 18/10/2020 Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: PA © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: PA

A man has been arrested in connection with the leak of highly sensitive cables sent to London by the UK ambassador to Washington savaging Donald Trump’s character and leadership skills.

The man, believed to be a civil servant at the Department for International Trade, was arrested on Tuesday after a 15-month inquiry appeared to have gone cold.

Lord Darroch was forced to quit as ambassador in July 2019 after his confidential cables criticising Trump’s chaotic presidency and claiming he radiated insecurity were leaked. The US president said he would no longer cooperate with Darroch, and Boris Johnson, at the time a Conservative leadership candidate, refused to give the ambassador his full backing.

Three days after the man’s arrest, the reporter that received the original leak, Steve Edgington, published fresh allegations in the Sun claiming Darroch had been investigated by the US justice department for handing over sensitive information to a then CNN reporter covering the US state department. According to the Sun report Darroch was cleared of the allegation after an inquiry.

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The former CNN reporter Michelle Kosinski, who was named in the Sun report, tweeted on Saturday: “There is a great deal wrong – and simply false – about what is being reported in some rightwing tabloids right now. A so-called leak investigation found no such leaking. Meaning for all those stories listed – that sensitive information did not come from the former ambassador. Sounds like I had some good sources and did my job.”

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: In the leaked cables Darroch had warned Trump’s career could end in ‘disgrace’. © Photograph: PA In the leaked cables Darroch had warned Trump’s career could end in ‘disgrace’.

Kosinski said her information on a possible meeting between US officials and the North Korea dictator, Kim Jong-un, came from inside Trump’s circle. She no longer works for CNN and now presents a podcast called the Perfect Scam, which reports stories of people who have been defrauded.

Darroch had been frustrated at the inability of the UK security services to identify the source of the leak, partly since it might require British diplomats cabling back to the UK to be less frank in their assessments. The circulation list of cables, and the ability to forward them electronically within the civil service, has been tightened since the leak.

The breakthrough in the UK leak inquiry came after officers from the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command unit arrested a man in London on Tuesday “on suspicion of offences under the Official Secrets Act and misconduct in a public office”.

A Met spokesperson said: “The man was taken to a London police station and was subsequently released on police bail to a date in mid-November. Inquiries continue.”

In the cables, Darroch described Trump as “inept”, “insecure”, “incompetent” and warned that the US president’s career could end in “disgrace”. The story prompted Trump to call Darroch, a “stupid guy” and “pompous fool”.


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