The Prime Minister’s personal phone number has been freely available online since 2006, it has been revealed.
The number was published in a press release that was never deleted, and it appears to be the same one Boris Johnson still uses.
Celebrity gossip email newsletter Popbitch reported the availability of the phone number on Thursday night (April 30), with Downing Street declining to comment on the allegation.
Last week, government officials denied that the PM had been advised to change his phone number
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today Programme, Former UK national security adviser Lord Ricketts said there was an “increased risk” of potential action by hostile states or criminal gangs if a phone number was widely available.
“I’m talking really of the most senior politicians in sensitive positions, whose phone conversations might well include sensitive material, commercially sensitive material, people trying to lobby them for favours, or tax advantages, or talks with foreign leaders,” he said.
The press release containing the PM’s phone number was published in 2006 when Johnson was MP for Henley and the shadow higher education minister. It invited journalists to contact Johnson for any further comment on a related issue.
Attempts by the PA news agency to call the number following the revelations on Thursday night were met with an automated message saying the phone was “switched off”.
The news comes as Johnson has faced criticism for use of his mobile in lobbying exchanges, most notably with Sir James Dyson at the start of the pandemic.
In a series of texts, Johnson promised to “fix” a tax issue in order that Sir James’s staff could remain in the UK to build ventilators.
This isn’t the first time the availability of the PM’s phone number has faced criticism, with The Daily Telegraph recently reporting that the UK's most senior civil servant, Simon Case recommended Johnson change his number due to it being widely known.
Last week, The Times reported that a universal credit claimant once contacted Johnson directly to ask for “help with their benefit claim” after being passed the PM’s number.