Investigation Demanded After UK Huawei 5G Leak

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Outrage from senior ministers after UK’s controversial decision on Huawei was leaked to newspaper

There have been calls for a criminal investigation into the leaking of the British government’s decision to allow Chinese networking giant Huawei limited access to the UK’s 5G network.

Earlier this week the Daily Telegraph reported that the UK’s National Security Council, which was chaired by the Prime Minister Theresa May, had agreed on Tuesday to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the network such as antennas and other “non-core” infrastructure.

This was despite concerns reportedly raised by senior ministers such as Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.

Huawei

Leak anger

The prime minister had hoped that excluding Huawei from all core parts of the 5G network, and only allowing restricted access to non-core parts, would be enough to please all sides.

But it seems the leaking of the decision by the National Security Council has not gone down well with government ministers, who according to the BBC, are calling for a “full and proper” investigation.

One minister told the BBC that the leaking from the council was “simply not acceptable”.

The senior minister told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg that leaking the conversations was “extraordinary…the security council is the holy of holies”.

There were “huge concerns” over “getting into bed” with the telecoms giant, the minister reportedly said.

Another senior minister said there had to be a “full and proper leak inquiry”, with those responsible losing their jobs if necessary.

Conservative backbench MP Sir Nicholas Soames meanwhile has said the inquiry must be a criminal one, and anyone found guilty should be dismissed.

Controversial decision

The decision to allow Huawei to supply equipment for the UK’s 5G network was always going to be controversial, especially as there is no clear understanding on what constitutes the “core” part of the network, from which Huawei is banned.

The mobile industry in the UK however had been keen to keep Huawei involved.

Three for example said last month that it was confident that equipment from Chinese networking giant Huawei does not pose a security threat.

Vodafone has also warned that banning Huawei would cost the UK its 5G lead, and would mean ripping out existing 4G gear at a cost of ‘hundreds of millions’ of pounds.

There has been intense lobbying efforts by the United States to pressure its allies to ban Huawei and other Chinese suppliers from participating in the build-out of 5G networks.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has previously told allies that “America may not be able to operate in certain environments if there is Huawei technology adjacent to that”.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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