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UK Police Launch Probe into Leak of Ambassador's Secret Cables

UK Police Launch Probe into Leak of Ambassador's Secret Cables

Sir Kim also referred to "incoherent, chaotic" United States policy on Iran and questioned Mr Trump's publicly stated reason for calling off a retaliatory air strike against Tehran following the downing of an American drone.

Evening Standard editor George Osborne described Mr Basu's statement as "stupid" and "ill-advised".

"We are, however, a body charged with enforcing the law, and we have received legal advice that has caused us to start a criminal inquiry into the leak of these specific documents as a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act (OSA)".

Scotland Yard has said it respects the rights of the media, but that the recent publication of leaked diplomatic memos was not in the public interest.

"The state threatening media freedom is a risky road to tread", Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Twitter.George Osborne, editor of the London Evening Standard and a former finance minister, described the remarks as a "very stupid and ill-advised statement from a junior officer who doesn't appear to understand much about press freedom".

Other newspaper editors and MPs were also critical of Mr Basu's statement.

Mr Basu also warned the media that further publication of the ambassador's emails could be a criminal offence, and any leaked documents should be returned to the government.

The Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray said the threat to the media in the police warning was "not acceptable" in a free society.

Boris Johnson said that stopping newspapers printing such documents would represent "an infringement on press freedom and have a chilling effect on public debate".

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his predecessor Boris Johnson said the leaker should be found but the press should not be targeted.

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"If (journalists) are receiving stolen material they should give it back to their rightful owner and they should also be aware of the huge damage that's already been done and the potentially even greater damage that could be done", former defence minister Michael Fallon told BBC radio.

Darroch stepped down from his role on Wednesday.

The Official Secrets Act bars public servants from making "damaging" disclosures of classified material.

Sir Kim's resignation prompted widespread support for him - as well as criticism of Tory leadership frontrunner Mr Johnson.

In this photo, taken on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, British Ambassador Kim Darroch hosts a National Economists Club event at the British Embassy in Washington.

However Mr Johnson has sought to distance himself from speculation that his comments caused Sir Kim to quit, saying "I think that unfortunately what I said on that TV debate was misrepresented to Kim".

"[Boris Johnson] didn't want to get into a tit for tat debate about whether Sir Kim should continue as the ambassador".

The fact that Johnson, who is expected to become the next PM, didn't support the ambassador was one of the reasons he stood down, says Dr Farr, as he added that effectively, the next PM sided with the foreign government over one of his own representatives in what is an extraordinary situation.

Shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes said Sir Kim Darroch was "just doing his job" and the criminal investigation was "welcome".