UK Foreign Secretary faces trouble over leaked webcam images

Waller 1By Simon Davies

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague is facing mounting pressure to resign following the disclosure today of sensational webcam images that show him parading theatrically in a rubber gimp suit.

The leaking of these and more than 40,000 other intimate webcam images of senior public officials is likely to seriously undermine the government’s moral authority and create a setback to attempts by the Prime Minister to institute a series of initiatives designed to strengthen the powers of security services.

Hague 1The series of three images of Hague displays activities that apparently took place online in November last year with an unidentified man dressed in a rubber mask. They show an enthusiastic Hague posing in several positions.

One image involving a clothes hoist and two ripe satsumas was considered unfit for a general viewing audience and has been withheld from publication.

The highly sensitive leak has caused profound embarrassment both to the government and to the heads of British spy organisations, some of whom have also been compromised by the disclosures.

The images were transmitted on Sunday night UK time to the popular civil rights blog site The Privacy Surgeon. Metadata associated with the images validates the source of the activity as Hague’s primary London residence, though the Privacy Surgeon’s libel lawyers have advised that we should say there is no such evidence.

The Privacy Surgeon had previously infuriated some senior surveillance officials by offering a $1,000 bounty for the capture of their DNA and fingerprints.

A man identified only as “Sir Ronny” contacted the Privacy Surgeon immediately after publication of the data and claimed to be the second man in the Hague images. He denied voluntarily wearing the mask, claiming that he preferred to wear women’s undergarments during his sessions with Hague and other ministers.

Sir Mark Waller: always a private citizen

Sir Mark Waller: always a private citizen

Hague, who is the minister responsible for UK spy organisation GCHQ, is widely seen as an apologist for the recently disclosed activities of the NSA, of which Britain is the principle operational partner.

The disclosure follows news last week that GCHQ had spied on the webcams of 1.8 million Yahoo users – an exercise that was broadly condemned as an unnecessary act of aggression against innocent members of the public. The captured webcam data includes a large proportion of intimate and sexual images.

Ministers have refused to apologise for the incident but have privately argued that GCHQ has legal cover through the issue of an “external warrant” under paragraph four of section 8 of the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

A spokesman for Britain’s BDSM community confirmed the authenticity of the kink outfits in the images but expressed disappointment at the “amateurish” way the items were being used.

There is speculation that this week’s leaks have come from maverick elements inside the spy agency in retaliation for Hague’s refusal to engage the ethical issues that have emerged over the past few months on such matters.

The controversy, however, is not confined to Cameron’s first Secretary of State.

In one image, GCHQ chief Sir Iain Lobban was captured on hands and knees dressed in rubber pants, bunny

Sir Iain Lobban enjoying a few moments of private time

Sir Iain Lobban enjoying a few moments of private time

ears and a dog collar. The spy agency has attempted to explain the image as an innocent “fancy dress costume” moment, though GCHQ’s spokesman was unable to explain the existence of the flamboyant transvestite in the webcam transmission.

The Privacy Surgeon was then threatened with a DA (Defence Advisory) Notice to prevent publication. DA Notices are informal orders that are used to censor publication of material deemed against the national interest.

Another image shows partially discredited surveillance watchdog Sir Mark Waller in a nappy and playing 9/11 games with a toy plane. Sir Mark has come under fire in recent days because of his refusal to appear before the parliament’s committee investigating the activities of the spy agencies.