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GLEN OWEN reveals the inside story of the hunt to find the leaker

GLEN OWEN: The men in dark suits rapped on the doors of the Cabinet ‘doves’ as the nation settled down to watch Strictly Come Dancing last Saturday evening.

The men in dark suits rapped on the doors of the Cabinet ‘doves’ as the nation settled down to watch Strictly Come Dancing last Saturday evening.

The celebrity dance show was running late because Downing Street had crashed a press conference by Boris Johnson into the prime-time schedules – a rushed and chaotic response to a leak in that morning’s newspapers.

Standing at the door of senior Minister Michael Gove’s West London home was a Government security specialist, who entered the house and demanded to see his mobile phone, before examining his calls, text messages and WhatsApp conversations.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was also quizzed forensically by investigators about his activities over the previous 24 hours, as were his aides. The officials were acting on the orders of the Cabinet Office, after a furious Mr Johnson ordered Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to find the mole described by a senior source as a ‘chatty rat’ at the heart of Government.

Downing Street was forced crash a press conference by Boris Johnson (pictured) into the prime-time schedules – a rushed and chaotic response to a leak in that morning’s newspapers

The ‘rat’ told Saturday morning’s newspapers that the previous day’s meeting of the all-powerful Covid Quad committee had decided to introduce a second national lockdown within days: anti-lockdown hawks in the Government claim that Mr Johnson had intended to spend the weekend studying the most recent and accurate data – and discussing it with the rest of the Cabinet – before deciding whether to extend his regional system of tiered restrictions instead.

They say that whoever was behind the leak had compelled the Prime Minister to rush into another economically ruinous lockdown, based on now-discredited predictions of up to 4,000 Covid deaths a day by Christmas. Pro-lockdown doves in the Cabinet dispute this, saying that the leak merely accelerated a decision that was inevitable.

Mr Johnson’s anger over the leak was compounded by the…

By Glen Owen for The Mail on Sunday

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