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Spear-phishing fears after North West MP admits passing on data

Hazel Grove MP, William Wragg, has admitted that he gave personal phone numbers of MPs to someone he met on a dating app.

Wragg told The Times that he was “mortified” and that he’d shared the data, because he was “scared” the person on the app had “compromising things on me.”

Leicestershire Police is investigating a report of malicious communications after a number of unsolicited messages were sent to a local MP in March. It’s believed that at least 12 men based at Westminster had received unsolicited texts and naked pictures.

Wragg, who is the vice-chair of the 1922 committee told the paper that he’d shared “intimate pictures” of himself with the man he’d met on Grindr. He added:

“I’ve hurt people by being weak. I was scared. I’m mortified. I’m so sorry that my weakness has caused other people hurt.”

In 2022 he announced he would’t be running in the next election.

The Politico website said that 12 people had come forward so far saying they’d been contact by “Abi” and “Charlie” via WhatsApp.

It’s believed that the messages were part of a “spear-phishing attack” to gather compromising information on victims.

“The MPs and others targeted by William Wragg’s blackmailer will be in an enormously difficult position particularly if, as reported, some have shared explicit images which are now in the hands of nefarious actors.  Whilst the identities of these victims may be speculated upon within the corridors of Westminster and be the subject of intense media and social media interest, it is essential that their private information and their identities continues to be protected. Those with a legitimate interest in the relevant information will be the investigating authorities who should be well versed on their obligations to the victims of crime,” stated Hanna Basha and Mark Jones, Partners at legal firm, Payne Hicks Beach.

“The alleged blackmailer could also have committed a range of other criminal offences by sending these messages. The introduction of the Online Safety Act 2023 is timely given that new criminal offences came into force from 31 January 2024. In particular, the new offences of sending photographs of genitals (section 66A Sexual Offences Act 2003) and sharing or threatening to share intimate photographs (section 66B Sexual Offences Act. Both carry up to 2 years’ imprisonment. These new offences are in addition to the existing “communications” offences under both the Malicious Communication Act 1988 and the Communication Act 2003 and provide the police with more wide ranging powers to punish offenders.”

A parliamentary spokesperson said:

“Parliament takes cybersecurity extremely seriously. We provide members and staff with tailored advice, making them aware of cyber risks and how to manage their digital safety — including on any personal devices and accounts. 

“We would encourage any passholders who have concerns to contact the Parliamentary Security Department.”

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