Outlets risk prosecution for publishing Kim Darroch leaks: Scotland Yard

UK's Johnson says his comments about U.S. envoy were a factor in his resignation

UK's Johnson says his comments about U.S. envoy were a factor in his resignation

"We know these documents and potentially others remain in circulation".

"Given the widely reported consequences of that leak I am satisfied that there has been damage caused to United Kingdom worldwide relations, and there would be clear public interest in bringing the person or people responsible to justice", Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said in a statement.

Separately, the Sunday Times reported that a government investigation into the leak had identified a civil servant as the person responsible.

Mr Basu said in his statement: 'I would advise all owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty's Government'.

"A prosecution on this basis would amount to an infringement on press freedom and have a chilling effect on public debate".

"I think the Government and the police are fully entitled to find out who was involved in that and if they can to prevent it happening again".

The Conservative leadership contender admitted he should have been more supportive of Sir Kim Darroch, and acknowledged that his refusal to explicitly back the ambassador had been a factor in his decision to step down.

In a cable sent afterwards, Darroch reportedly indicated there were divisions in Trump's team over the decision, and criticised the White House for a lack of long-term strategy.

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Mr Basu issued a further statement on Saturday afternoon saying he had received legal advice that led to the Met initiating an investigation into the documents as a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn said the leaks were: "Clearly a breach of confidence (and) information that should have been maintained as private".

"I can not think of a worse example of a heavy-handed approach by the police to attempt to curtail the role of the media as a defence against the powerful and those in authority", he said.

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. "There are rules around that and there are considerable protections for journalists who do reveal things and that, of course, is the right thing to do".

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