Matt Hancock leaked Whatsapps not ‘a matter’ for data breach inquiry, says regulator

Matt Hancock leaked Whatsapps not ‘a matter’ for data breach inquiry, says regulator

Matt Hancock’s leaked Whatsapps about the Covid-19 pandemic are not a subject for a data breach investigation “at this stage”, a top regulator has said.

Journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who worked with former health secretary Hancock on his book, Pandemic Diaries, handed over thousands of Whatsapp messages to the Telegraph.

The paper published claims including that Hancock rejected care home test advice and that then-education secretary Gavin Williamson said teachers wanted an “excuse” not to work.

But watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – which monitors data protection regulation compliance, including GDPR – said the disclosures were not a “matter” for them.

A spokesperson said: “At this stage we do not see this as a matter for the ICO but there are questions around the conditions on which departing members of government retain and subsequently use official information which need to be considered by organisations such as the Cabinet Office.”

In a statement today, Hancock said: “I am hugely disappointed and sad at the massive betrayal and breach of trust by Isabel Oakeshott.”

He added: “There is absolutely no public interest case for this huge breach.”

Hancock said his working relationship with Oakeshott was based on “legal confidentiality” and “a process … Read More

WH Smith hit by cyber attack as hackers gain access to private company data

WH Smith hit by cyber attack as hackers gain access to private company data

WH Smith has been hit by a cyber attack that has resulted in hackers gaining access to private company data.

The stationary store and book seller, which has over 600 high street shops in the UK, said it has launched an investigation into the attack.

The retailer said however, that customer data was not affected and that there has been “no impact” on the company’s trading activities.

“Our website, customer accounts and underlying customer databases are on separate systems that are unaffected by this incident,” a statement read.

“WH Smith takes the issue of cyber security extremely seriously and investigations into the incident are ongoing. We are notifying all affected colleagues and have put measures in place to support them,” the company said.

WH Smith is the latest company to fall victim to cyber attacks as a number of retailers and businesses have reported hits.

In January, JD Sports reported that some 10 million customers might have had their addresses, phone numbers and email addresses stolen in a hacking incident.

Additionally, the Royal Mail also suffered severe disruption to its international export services for weeks following a similar incident.

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Profits rise fourfold at ‘nimble’ Co-op Bank

Profits rise fourfold at ‘nimble’ Co-op Bank

The rising cost of borrowing has boosted earnings at Co-operative Bank, which recorded a fourfold rise in profits last year.

The bank, which is no longer part of the Co-operative Group, said that pre-tax profits surged in 2022 to £132.6 million, up from £31.1 million in 2021.

It is the second consecutive year the bank has turned a profit after it was rescued by a group of hedge funds in 2017. It had been on the brink of collapse after a £1.5 billion shortfall was discovered in its balance sheet.

The bank’s boss said the company had benefited from being more “nimble” than the UK’s five biggest banks as it continued its prolonged turnaround.

Since December 2021, Britain has seen the fastest tightening of interest rates in the 26-year history of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, with the cost of borrowing rising from 0.1 per cent to its highest level since the financial crisis at 4 per cent.

The Manchester-based lender passes about 60 per cent of every interest rate rise to its savings customers, according to Nick Slape, the chief executive.

“The big five banks have got huge amounts of liquidity because of their market share,” Slape … Read More

Bank of England boss signals interest rates may have peaked

Bank of England boss signals interest rates may have peaked

The Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey, has signalled interest rates may have peaked after 10 successive increases in the official cost of borrowing since December 2021.

Speaking in London, Bailey said Threadneedle Street would assess the impact of tighter policy on the economy before sanctioning any fresh moves.

However, the governor also warned that the Bank was alert to the risk of repeating the mistakes of the 1970s and would not hesitate to raise rates further from their current 4% should inflationary pressures become embedded.

Bailey voted for a quarter-point increase in interest rates at the last meeting of the Bank’s nine-strong monetary policy committee in February but made clear on Wednesday that he was now adopting a wait-and-see approach.

“At this stage, I would caution against suggesting either that we are done with increasing Bank rate, or that we will inevitably need to do more,” he said. “Some further increase in Bank rate may turn out to be appropriate but nothing is decided. The incoming data will add to the overall picture of the economy and the outlook for inflation, and that will inform our policy decisions.”

Financial markets have been pencilling in further increases in interest rates … Read More

Jaguar Land Rover owner ‘seeks £500m UK subsidy to build battery factory’

Jaguar Land Rover owner ‘seeks £500m UK subsidy to build battery factory’

Jaguar Land Rover’s owner, Tata Motors, has reportedly asked the UK government for more than £500m in state subsidies to build a battery factory in Somerset, in a move seen as crucial to the future of the British car industry.

Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), has asked for the money in the form of grants and support packages such as assistance for energy costs and research funding.

The carmaker is choosing between a potential site in Somerset and another in Spain, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the £500m figure. Spain has been offering large grants to companies considering battery production, in the hopes that it can attract the new industry with the potential for cheap solar power.

The decision on where JLR, Britain’s biggest carmaker, sources its batteries is seen as a key test of the strength of the government’s desire to sustain a large car industry.

One person with knowledge of JLR’s strategy said it was likely that a final decision would come within the next two months. “We may be already past added-on time in extra time,” the person said. “If JLR, as the UK’s biggest motor manufacturer, can’t make … Read More