More "denials" from the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) about the Number 10. Downing Street email systems this Monday morning: Morning press briefing from 29 January 2007
We have to agree with Guido Fawkes that the "denials" by the PMOS come across as incredibly defensive and evasive.
The PMOS claims that the Police have been given full access to, the presumably ".x.gsi.gov.uk" email system, as explained in our previous blog article
Have the Police really been given full access to the logfiles regarding hotmail or internal Labour Party email gateway etc. access via the Pipex internet router allocated to the Prime Minister's Office, which is separate from the Energis run Government Secure Intranet, the existence of which appears to contradict the PMOS' claims today ?
Police Inquiry/No10 computers
Asked by the BBC's Political Editor about the Sunday Telegraph story and the ITV denial from No10 and what was it Downing Street was denying, the PMOS said that the journalist had to put to him what it was that he wanted the PMOS to deny.
As if the PMOS and his team of media monitors had not read and watched those stories over and over again.
The journalist said that Downing Street had appeared to deny handwritten notes by the Prime Minister in relation to honours. The PMOS asked who had said that there were and what were they about.
The journalist said he had.
The PMOS seems rather evasive, has a raw nerve been touched ?
The PMOS said that what we had responded to were specific allegations put to us by ITN and the Sunday Telegraph. The PMOS went on to say that if people had a further specific allegation, then they had to tell him what it was and who had made it.
The journalist continued that the Sunday Telegraph had made an allegation that there were written notes by the Prime Minister in relation to honours. The PMOS said that it was for him to respond to the Sunday Telegraph, and if people had a specific allegation, they had to make it, and tell him who the source was.
Does the PMOS mean the newspaper or blog making the allegation, or is he asking for confidential sources or whistleblowers to be betrayed ?
Channel Four's Political Editor said that he had picked up from the PMOS an "angry" tone, and did we feel that the police were putting things into the public domain without reporting directly to Downing Street, the PMOS asked the journalist if he was really telling him that police involved in an ongoing investigation were leaking details to the press, because if he was, it was a very serious allegation.
Asked if that could be the only way in which some of the information could have got into the public domain, the PMOS said "you tell me". We believed that any conversations between the parties involved should be private.
The are numerous possible sources of leaks e.g.
- Gordon Brown's rival apparatchiki at Number 11 Downing Street or at the Treasury/
- Leaks not directly from the Police but from the Crown Prosecution Service, who will have been shown any evidence found by the Police.
- Whistleblowers within the Cabinet Office
Whistleblowers within the Number 10 Downing Street
- Disgruntled Labour Party money lenders or donors
Put that we had "rubbished" any idea of alternative computer networks, but the Mail on Saturday and "Guido Fawkes" website had both claimed that they had evidence of alternative email networks in No10 that linked up to the Labour Party, the PMOS said that we stood by what we said to ITN. There was only one email system at No10.
Guido Fawkes seems to have achieved equal name recognition and status with the Government spin doctors as a major Sunday tabloid newspaper.
Note the change to the use of "we" in this official Number 10. Downing Street report of the Press Briefing.
Asked if it would be possible for someone to "hop on" using a No10 computer onto the Labour Party network, the PMOS said again that there was only one email system at No10.
We are sceptical of this claim - see details below about the Pipex internet router, which is separate from the Government Secure Intranet.
Asked further questions about the possibility of an external server, or the possibilities of sending Labour Party emails, and did only one system allow for more than one email address, the PMOS repeated that there was only one email system in No10. As the PMOS said on Friday, people in No10 could not access hotmail, gmail etc because of security reasons, and he was not aware of anyone who had more than one email address.
Nobody has ever claimed that any Labour Party email servers or Virtual Private Network or secure login server computers are physically located in the very cramped Number 10 Downing Street offices, and that is not what the question asked, is it ?
We agree that staff at Number 10 Downing Street or the Cabinet Office will not have been allocated more than one individiual "@pm.x.gsi.gov.uk" or "@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk" email address.
Asked if people could send political emails from the No10 account, the PMOS replied that he was not going to get into the details of the system. The claim that was put to us was that there was more than one system, and there is not. There is only one, and the police have had access to everything that went through the system.
Guido Fawkes implies that he, and probably other "Westminster Village" insiders, have received emails via Hotmail from Downing Street staff.
They should check these hotmail etc. email headers, to see if the webmail accounts were accessed via the Energis run and Message Labs filtered Government Secure Intranet gateways to the internet e.g
IP address: 220.127.116.11
Host name: gateway-202.energis.gsi.gov.uk
Suppose, however, that contrary to the denials given by the PMOS, some of the staff at Number 10 Downing Street actually made use of this block of Pipex IP addresses in order to use their hotmail or gmail or Labour Party web email accounts ?
inetnum: 18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124
descr: Prime Ministers Office
status: ASSIGNED PA
source: RIPE # Filtered
person: D R W Horsborough
address: Prime Ministers Office
address: 10 Downing Street
address: SW1A 2AA
address: England, UK
phone: +44 171 930 4433
fax-no: +44 171 925 0917
source: RIPE # Filtered
This block of IP addresses which has appeared in webserver logfiles over the years, is familiar to Guido Fawkes' current blog flame war partner Manic from Bloggerheads and the ironical Backing Blair campaign.
There appears to be a Pipex internet gateway allocated to the Prime Minister's Office, which is not part of the Government Secure Intranet, Some of these IP addresses are currently being used for the Number 10 Downing Street website, but not all of them.
Back in 2005 there could easily have been ways for the people with press release and news publishing privileges, to use these addresses as a backdoor to gain access to their hotmail , gmail or Labour Party private email systems, without going through the GSI.
12 98 98 97 126.96.36.199 pos2-0.cr1.lnd10.gbb.uk.uu.net
13 102 102 104 188.8.131.52 gigabitethernet0-0-0.gw5.lnd10.alter.net
14 99 99 99 184.108.40.206 primmini02-gw.customer.uk.uu.net
Have the Metropolitan Police team investigating the possible Loans for Honours scandal and cover up also had access to the Communications Traffic Data logfiles for this Internet connection, which is not part of the Government Secure Intranet ?
Since no Lobby Journalists seem to have specifically asked about this network, there has not been a specific denial from the PMOS about it.
Unless the Number 10 Downing Street Press Office is much more pro-actively open and forthcoming about this affair, they will not quell the conspiracy theories and the impression of "no smoke without fire".