University concludes 'Jihadi John' image leak probe: 'Extremely troubled by the data breach'

The University of Westminster has "concluded" an investigation into the source of a leaked picture of Islamic State fighter Mohammed Emwazi.

The institution, attended by the man dubbed "Jihadi John", said it was "extremely troubled" after the image from Emwazi's student records appeared on Sky News and then in the rest of the media.

"Jihadi John", who featured in a number of IS beheading videos, was exposed by the media as former University of Westminster computer programming student Emwazi at the end of February.

Sky News obtained an image of Emwazi in a baseball cap from his student records.

The university announced at the time that it was investigating how the information was obtained.

It has now confirmed to Press Gazette that the probe has been completed, but said it cannot comment further.

The university told Press Gazette that police were not involved in the investigation.

It said in a statement: “The University was extremely troubled by the data breach and takes its obligations under Data Protection extremely seriously.

"The investigation into the leak has now concluded, but due to legal reasons we are unable to comment.”

In response to a Press Gazette Freedom of Information request, the university said that the investigation was "carried out internally".

Asked whether the university could confirm whether the source of the leak has been discovered and whether any discplinary action has been taken, a spokesperson said: “Owing to legal reasons, we are unable to comment.”

Public sector crackdown on 'unauthorised' media contact

This investigation comes at a time when there appears to be a widespread public sector crackdown on unauthorised contact with, or disclosure to, the media.

In March, a lecturer and his wife were sacked by the University of Bolton after being accused of speaking to journalists.

Also in March, the Government brought in a new rule meaning civil servants need permission from a minister before speaking to a journalist.

And in September last year the Ministry of Defence set out new rules forbidding any member of the Armed Forces from speaking to a journalist without permission from a press officer.

FoI research by Press Gazette earlier this year found a sharp rise in the number of local council press leak investigations, finding at least 17 in the last two financial years.

And this appears to mirror trends among police forces.

The BBC, meanwhile, was accused earlier this year of treating its staff like "the enemy" after it emerged that it had investigated 37 alleged media leaks in 2013 and 2014. It said it was unable to provide the figures for previous years under FoI rules.

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