With Theresa May stepping down from her role as British prime minister this month following her failure to deliver Brexit, the race is on to crown a new leader in the week of July 22. Boris Johnson is the bookmakers’ clear favorite to win, but he must overcome the challenge posed by his opponent, Jeremy Hunt.
However, after a week of scandals involving Johnson, his walk to the finish line might not be the smooth trip he and his supporters have been hoping for. The former foreign secretary just can’t keep his name from being in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Last week, Johnson made headlines after his neighbors reported a heated argument taking place between the politician and his partner, Carrie Symonds. A few days later, a woman came forward to allege that he had threatened her 30 years ago, per The Inquisitr. Now, The Daily Mirror is reporting that the prime ministerial hopeful is under investigation from Britain’s data watchdog, after a government minister reported him over the misuse of her contact details.
Harriet Baldwin – a supporter of Hunt’s bid to become the new leader – claimed that Johnson’s campaign team contacted her, her husband, a relative and a friend to ask for support in the upcoming vote. However, Baldwin believes that this use of data breaches ICO guidelines, and has asked the Information Commissioner’s Office to launch an investigation.
According to ICO guidelines, candidates wishing to send emails, texts or automated calls must have consent from the individuals they plan on contacting before they can do so.
Baldwin wasn’t the only minister to be contacted by a member of Johnson’s staff. Ben Howlett, a former Conservative MP for the city of Bath, also claimed he was called “by a member of the Boris campaign team” to ask which candidate he would be supporting.
Howlett, who is also lending his support to Hunt, has called for a full review into the matter. Furthermore, Howlett also claims “dozens” of other party members and councilors have been contacted by Johnson’s campaign without consent.
Johnson’s team denies any wrongdoing, and claims that their campaign is “compliant with GDPR and the Data Protection Act.” An ICO spokesperson told The Daily Mirror that they are aware of the situation, and are investigating it accordingly.
Whether or not this is a calculated attempt to further smear Johnson’s public image in order to gain political advantage for Hunt remains to be seen. However, the race to become the next leader of the U.K. is far from over, and there’s still plenty of time for more drama to rear its head.